My Brother Nick: #BCLawImpact

From coaches who trained me so I can now lift heavy books, to enthusiastic professors and my supportive parents, I have many people to thank for encouraging my journey to law school. I am blessed to have known people from all walks of life and have chosen this path to give back to those that have inspired me along the way. Specifically I would like to thank my older brother Nick for being my role model and teaching me the value of following my passions. He has always been there to push me, compete with me and give me honest advice. My brother has been my mainstay while I jumped the track from my athletic pursuit to this peculiar and unfamiliar legal education. After all, he understands the transition exactly. I certainly could not have made it this far without him.


My Sister Sarah: A #BCLawImpact Story

Not long after graduating from college my sister, Sarah, who recently entered her 30s, found herself at a convent in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, helping the nuns run an orphanage. She wasn’t taking vows, but she was beginning, unbeknownst to her, a life path focused on service to others. She has spent the bulk of the past five years working for the Human Resources department for Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontiers, MSF).

When I think of HR, I think of Toby from the show The Office. That was not my sister’s HR. She spent months working in Kurdistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Haiti again, to name a few. These are not vacation destinations, and that’s in part what drew her to the work: the ability to go into Afghanistan to work with and learn from a culture that most folks will never get to experience. Her HR department is likely unlike those that you have worked with. One of her first assignments was to maintain a list of every employee’s location for MSF’s entire 120-person mission in South Sudan, in case they needed to evacuate the country. Every day, she would email or call to each field hospital to see who was moving where, so that if disaster struck and the entire team needed to leave the country quickly, they could. She was barely twenty-four.

This week, the Impact blog is showcasing those people in our lives who have made an impact on us, who have helped us arrive at where we are today, and who keep us motivated towards our goals in the future. If you want to share a story about that person in your life, join us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, and post your story using the hashtag #BCLawImpact. Students from the Law Students Association (LSA) and the blog will be in the Yellow Room on Thursday at lunch with a BC Law backdrop and a dry-erase board so you can take a picture with a message thanking someone who has made an impact on you and post it. We will post some of our favorite pictures and messages on the blog, and they will be collected in a Tagboard.

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Veterans: BC Law has Your Six

Above photo is the BC Veteran’s Memorial “dedicated to the memory of Boston College alumni who died in service to their country.”

Two days into a trip from Boston to the Panama Canal, my Coast Guard cutter tucked into a harbor off Long Island to anchor while we waited out a winter storm. Like most of the crew, I took advantage of what might be my last hours of American cell phone service for three months to text family members and obsessively refresh my email. I stood on the flight deck and felt a momentary reprieve from the wind and snow whipping my face as I read the subject line, “Congratulations from BC Law.”

My first reaction was an embarrassing combination of shock and fist pumps directed in no particular direction. My second reaction was a sobering, “Now what?” After ten years in the military I’d grown accustomed to having a checklist and pre-planned response card for everything I did, now I was temporarily severing my connection to the outside world without any idea how I’d prepare or pay for law school. I didn’t know what kind of help to ask for, much less who to ask for it.

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Becoming a “Stonecatcher”

“I don’t have a voice. But when you speak on my behalf, I get heard.”

As a law student, I don’t usually consider myself to be in a position of power or influence. In fact, I usually feel quite intimidated, whether I’m with a professor during office hours, trying to sound intelligent (when I’m actually utterly confused about the subject), or at a job interview, doing my best to persuade the interviewers that I’m a worthy candidate (while trying not to shake and stutter from anxiety).

So when my client Joseph* said those words to me, I practically burst into tears. Me? A mere law student? Give him a voice?

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BC Law Finals Survival Guide

I’m pleased to host a guest post from 2L Maggie Leccese, who shares some advice for preparing for finals.

By now, you’ve probably got all the outlines you can fit inside a one-inch binder. But for those of us who aren’t naturally gifted networkers, it’s still not too late to ace those exams. Fortunately, LSA didn’t assign me a mentee this year, which means I’ve saved up all of my sage advice for this well-timed blog post.

Here’s a list of the eight things you need to do to get through your first semester of finals. Why only eight? Well, I started with a lot more, but my editor alerted me to the blog’s limited server space. Here’s what’s left:

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Who Are These Kids?

“You can tell who the law students are because they’re all kind of old and really stressed out.”  These were the words of a freshman to her friend, overheard by an old and stressed law student, while walking around Boston College’s Newton campus.

BC Law is located within the quiet Boston suburb of Newton.  BC’s main campus is located a mile and a half away, in the Newton neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, which directly abuts Boston.  The law school shares its home with dorms for about half of the Boston College undergraduate freshmen.  For us law students, it can be invigorating and refreshing to be surrounded by such passionate youth.  They, however, are unhappy about the arrangement.  While all of BC Law’s classes are held on the Newton Campus, all of the undergrad classes, and administrative offices, and social engagements, and sporting events, and access to public transportation are located on main campus.  The Newton freshmen are a shuttle bus away from all of these offerings.  The other half of BC’s freshmen, in a luck of the draw, reside on main campus, in an area called “Upper.”  When I was a freshman at BC, I had the great fortune of living on Upper.  One of my friends, relegated to Newton, spent many nights sleeping in Upper’s student lounges, with stashes of toiletries and spare clothes scattered throughout our more fortunate friends’ rooms.

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The One Shift That Could Change the War on Drugs

After I wrote about the failures of the War on Drugs for BC Law Magazine last semester I waited anxiously for the backlash. I spent ten years in the U.S. Coast Guard before law school, six of them chasing international drug cartels at sea, and I had the opportunity to work with some of the most professional and dedicated military and law enforcement personnel in the world. I was terrified about how they’d respond when I called the drug war a “lost cause,” and it took less than a day for the responses to start flooding my inbox. The volume wasn’t surprising, but the content shocked me.

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The Dangers of Mathematical Illiteracy in the Legal Profession

You don’t have to be a fan of the TV series Black Mirror to realize that our world is becoming more computationally driven. Yet, being a fan may help you recognize the dangerous ways that technology can expand to affect how society operates. Ever since I began law school just a few months ago, I’ve been led to consider the role that courts will play in organizing and controlling new scientific frontiers. An increasingly important feature of future courts will be mathematical literacy. Unfortunately, based on empirical data, our courts system has not been very effective at analyzing empirical data.

The Supreme Court recently heard arguments grounded in statistics related to partisan gerrymandering in Gill v. Whitford. Many judges seemed dismissive of a mathematical tool, called the efficiency gap, that aims to measure the extent of partisan gerrymandering. The computation simply involves taking the difference between each party’s “wasted” votes, divided by the total number of votes cast. The court suggested that the lack of public understanding would make this standard arbitrary and erode the legitimacy of the court. Meanwhile, I’ve spent the last two months of law school rigorously attempting to internalize foundational legal concepts that I’m certain are puzzling to most lay people.

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Que esta passant aqui?

Walking the streets of Barcelona with my father used to involve a mild amount of embarrassment. In the city, where he was born and raised, and where most residents speak both Catalan and Spanish, there is a social convention: If you speak to someone you don’t know in Catalan, and they respond in Spanish, you should follow their cue and switch to Spanish because they do not speak Catalan.  When someone responded to my father’s Catalan in Spanish, he persisted in Catalan.  Sometimes they would call him out, explicitly telling him that they did not speak Catalan.  Sometimes he would respond, “But we are in Catalunya.”  I would stand by, hand blocking my face, hoping the interaction would end quickly.  After seeing the national police bludgeon citizens throughout Catalonia with truncheons in a feeble attempt to block the October 1 independence referendum, I have a harder time seeing my father’s obstinacy as embarrassing.

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