Here at BC Law, community is a central part of student life. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has changed the way that BC students can interact with each other, both inside and outside of the classroom. For instance, the BC Orientation Program for 1Ls, LLMs, and transfer students was completely virtual, and back on campus we must maintain proper social distancing and wear masks at all times. But still, the desire to maintain friendships and experience Boston is important to many, even if it looks and feels a little different. Therefore, I wanted to share with all of you some ways that my friends and I plan to enjoy the great outdoors before we get hit with the Boston winter weather.
The start of a new school year is a hectic time. Figuring out new classes, learning brand-new material, and readjusting to the school-year schedule can be a bit overwhelming. I have been finding myself jotting down dates, searching my emails for important information, and panic-texting a classmate or two to make sure I am not missing anything.
In an attempt to quell the chaos, I put together some pertinent administrative information for the semester. Whether it’s knowing when the next shuttle is arriving to get to school or having resources to learn more about different BC Law departments, this guide has helped me keep everything in one place.
The coronavirus has changed every facet of our lives, and being a law student is no different. For incoming students, the School’s typical in-person Orientation program is just not going to work (with about 250 new students on the way, think social distancing requirements and crowd size limits). So BC Law has announced that it will be running virtual programs all summer and launching new webinars, get-to-know virtual sessions for Career Services, Alumni and Academic and Student Services, and new programs like “The Nest,” where current students help match up and guide small cohorts of incoming students in meet-and-greet sessions online.
Last year’s “Zero-L” online introduction to law school program is back too and better than ever, and so is the “Lawyering Fundamentals” course (held online this year and led by Academic Success Program Director Nina Farber). LF helps incoming students practice key skills and get feedback on writing and legal analysis before they actually start their classes.
All this content, as well as checklists and FAQs, can be found on the new Incoming Student Experience Website.
Well, it’s officially been a year at my not-so-new-anymore law school. Given the state of the world, it actually feels like I’ve been to three law schools in the last two years: my 1L school, BC, and the Zoom School of Law. This certainly isn’t the “transfer experience” I would have chosen, but that’s true for every person in the world right now experiencing this bizarre era in which we live.
I won’t lie, it’s been a weird year. I felt like right about the time I started to get adjusted to school and feel comfortable, it all got pulled out from under me and we switched to remote learning. Reflecting on this experience is difficult because of the truncated school year. But what I do know is this:
This Friday, May 22, BC Law 3Ls and LLM students were supposed to gather in Conte Forum and receive their degrees on stage in front of faculty, family and friends. The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into those plans, of course, as it did for many other graduates across the world. But BC Law has stepped up to offer some virtual hugs and high fives.
The Law Student Association, with support from the BC Law administration, has put together a celebration that runs all week on the Class of 2020 Facebook group page. The celebration kicked off this morning with a video from the faculty:
LSA events this week include a Facebook Watch Party screening of Legally Blonde, a virtual Trivia Night, a favorite memory photo contest and messages and live video appearances from the LSA president, members of the faculty, staff and Dean Rougeau. Grads, faculty and staff can all join the group and participate.
While they may not be able to get together in person, they can still celebrate the graduates’ accomplishments with the people who helped them along the way. For those who are able to make it back, a physical ceremony is also being planned for sometime in October.
Courtney Ruggeri is a rising 3L at BC Law. She loves to hear from readers: email her at email@example.com.
To help address the impact of COVID-19 on students’ summer work plans, the legal needs of individuals and public interest organizations, and to support ongoing research projects, BC Law faculty and staff have come together to offer two new opportunities.
The BC Law COVID-19 Legal Services Project (CVLSP) provides legal assistance and advice to individuals and organizations affected by COVID-19 disruptions or who provide public interest services. In this virtual law firm, law student volunteers, under the supervision of experienced practitioners, will advocate for and assist those in need. The anticipated work includes habeas corpus petitions and bond hearings in the Federal District Court on behalf of ICE detainees; interviewing and counseling individuals to facilitate receipt of unemployment benefits under the CARES Act; consumer debt assistance; compassionate release legal assistance; and legal research to organizations and entities.
1. In twist of fate, Dallas Community Serves 1L Connie Lee’s Family Restaurant
First-year student Connie Lee’s parents run a restaurant where she grew up in Dallas, Texas. “When our state began requiring restaurants to only do take-out or delivery, and issuing stay-at-home orders, my family feared what would happen these next few weeks,” Lee said.
In addition to physically endangering essential workers and their families, COVID-19 financially strains restaurants like the Lee’s and other small businesses with each passing day.
“My family has had the restaurant for 21 years now, and most of our customers have been there since day one,” Lee said. In recent weeks, instead of serving the surrounding community as it normally would, the restaurant and the Lee family has found the community serving them.
“Multiple people called my dad and gave him a pep talk for the first few days to not give up and let him know that he would get through this. A few people had sent us a greeting card with some donations gathered by neighbors,” Lee said.
Acts of kindness and selflessness like this sharply contrast the day-to-day drone of dark news and whirlwind of public health and financial variability. Lee says that expressing gratitude and looking forward to the return to relative normalcy is her focus for now: “I really don’t know what to say but thank you to them, and eventually to give everyone a hug once we are able to meet again. It’s really amazing to see how connected we can feel even in a time of distance and uncertainty.”
2. Alum Paul Trifiletti ’10 Negotiates 5-Day Jeopardy! Run
Athens, Georgia-based attorney becomes five-day champion, wins over $100,000
According to the Athens Banner-Herald, Paul Trifiletti’s success playing alongside syndicated Jeopardy! broadcasts encouraged him to try out for the real thing.
Trifiletti passed online qualifying rounds, an in-person audition, and an additional test before Sony Pictures Studios in California called, offering him a shot.
An Assistant District Attorney with the Piedmont Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, Trifiletti fought hard from start to finish. Down $1,400 heading into Final Jeopardy in his first game, Trifiletti correctly answered the ’20th Century Artists’ category to pass the leader and collect $21,000 as the new champion.
Perhaps the most notable moment came when a question drew on Trifiletti’s recollections of 1776 Philadelphia, this time beyond the world of Constitutional law. To a question asking for the nickname of Philadelphia 76’er Joel Embiid that “describes the 76’ers strategy of improving the team,” Trifiletti answered “Do a 180.’” In response, Embiid, known as “The Process,” changed his Twitter handle from “Joel ‘The Process’ Embiid” to “Joel ‘Do a 180’ Embiid???.” He has not changed it back.
Trifiletti finished his five-day run with $106,801. According to Jeopardy’s Tournament of Champions Tracker, he is poised to return for the program’s 15-player tournament of the season’s top champions.
Back in Athens, a young boy approached Trifiletti upon recognizing him from the show. The Athens Banner-Herald reports that Trifiletti told him to keep studying hard in school and that one day he, too, could be on the show.
“I encourage people who want to try to take the test,” Trifiletti said. “You could end up like me, end up getting on the show, end up winning five games. You never know.”
3. Professor Chirba Invokes Krazinski, Hamilton in Pedagogical Pep Talk
Newton hometown hero John Krazinski and the cast of Hamilton brought Professor Mary Ann Chirba’s Law Practice II class “full circle.”
At the beginning of the year, nearly every student in Professor Mary Ann Chirba’s Law Practice class was completely unfamiliar with legal research, analysis, and writing. BC Law’s flagship first-year Law Practice program introduces students to the work of a lawyer through legal problem solving in a simulated law practice setting. To set the stage, Professor Chirba showed students the clip of Lin-Manuel Miranda singing the opening song from Hamilton for the first time in public. She emphasized Miranda’s masterful display of linguistic precision, cogent argument, and word economy.
Off-broadway workshops were years away for Hamilton at that point, not to mention the popular adoration and critical acclaim it continues to enjoy. Similarly distant yet attainable, Professor Chirba explained to her students, was the endgame of the Law Practice journey: becoming efficient and effective legal practitioners.
“That was then, this is now,” Professor Chirba wrote in an email to her Law Practice class earlier this month, linking to the Hamilton cast’s surprise appearance on John Krazinski’s mini-series, Some Good News. “You are working on your final memos and need to focus on precision, concision, and TONS of large and small choices” regarding the content, phrasing, sequence, emphasis, and cohesion of the final product. Parting with words of encouragement relevant not only to her class but to anyone grasping for a ray of inspiration, Professor Chriba wrote of the clip:
“It will remind you that people are good, your future is bright, and you cannot throw away your…”
4. Multigenerational Teaching, Learning Offer Lessons in Law and Levity
To give his first-year Constitutional Law students a needed boost on April Fool’s Day, Professor Daniel Farbman turned to uncommon teaching assistants.
Professor Farbman posted two “administrative” videos on the course website, titled “Class Mechanics Update Video” and “Grading Policy Update Video.” He then instructed the class to watch them in preparation for a discussion to follow.
It turns out that they were videos of his two adorable children — one giving a lecture on her bouncy ball and another reading The Pigeon Needs a Bath.
“I was having a tough week, but these videos cheered me up!” said 1L Yeram Choi.
Earlier this month, Professor Ingrid Hillinger’s Bankruptcy class unexpectedly became a continuing legal education session.
A student revealed that her father, a bankruptcy attorney at a major national firm, tuned into the virtual class to brush up on his doctrinal footing, and he said he loved the experience.
Boston College Law faculty and staff’s extra efforts to keep student learning on track with some levity along the way have made the past few weeks brighter.
Ryan Kenney is a first-year student and loves to hear from readers. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Admitted Student Guide is back and better than ever!
I found this 70+ page guide super helpful when I was an admitted student trying to figure out how to navigate everything around transitioning to law school, from legal terminology, BC’s campuses and departments, registering for classes, Law Library resources, and moving to Boston. Do you need to have a car to get around? Where are the best (or cheapest) places to eat? Where do most students live? What the heck is an Agora Portal?
The Law Student Association (LSA) and the Admissions Office put this book together to help answer all those questions and more. It’s a goldmine of information for new students, especially those from out of state.
Check out the new guidebook for the BC Law Class of 2023 here.
Studying for final exams in law school is stressful. The stakes are high, the hours are long, and the despair can…fester. I was generally aware of the pressure built into a grading system centered around distributive bell curves when I enrolled, but in my first week at Boston College the reality set in. Something terrible happened: I met my peers, and they were every kind of smart, impressive and terrifying. They were students coming from across the country and around the world, some from THOSE big name schools and others with remarkable professional experience.
Naturally I compared them to myself, the dumbest person I know. That was a bad move for my self-confidence, but sometimes you just have to keep moving forward. So, that’s what I did heading into finals season.
As we remain in our homes for the foreseeable future, we are all altering our perceptions of what is “normal” to acclimate to the current reality. Amid law school selection season, prospective students face a unique challenge—getting a feel for law schools without actually being able to visit.
In response, BC Law recently held its first virtual Admitted Students Day on March 27 and 28. Administration, professors, alumni, and current students all contributed to the content, trying to encapsulate what makes BC Law so special in a series of posted videos and live webinars.