The Pandemic, Prisoners, and the Commonwealth: Cruel and Unusual?

Today I am hosting a guest blog from third-year student Eric Jepeal.


This past August I was fortunate to be appointed to serve on the Massachusetts State Advisory Committee (SAC) to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR). USCCR is a federal agency established by Congress to advance “civil rights through objective and comprehensive investigation, research, and analysis on issues of fundamental concern to the federal government and the public.” USCCR is Congressionally mandated to have SACs in each state and the District of Columbia. The members of these SACs advise and facilitate the work of the USCCR, and are colloquially referred to as the “eyes and ears” of the USCCR. 

Prior to my time at Boston College, I interned for the USCCR and worked on various projects related to solitary confinement, bail reform, and fair housing. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our SAC released a statement of concern regarding incarcerated persons. As you may be aware, the Supreme Judicial Court recently issued an opinion regarding litigation in Massachusetts brought by prisoners’ rights advocates and organizations to provide relief to incarcerated persons in the Commonwealth (CPCS v. Chief). Unfortunately, the SJC found it lacked authority to provide relief to prisoners who are more than sixty days into serving their sentences. 

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Businesses Want Governments on Stand-by for Coronavirus Relief

Today I am hosting the second in a series of guest blogs by Irit Tamir, an adjunct professor at BC Law who teaches Business and Human Rights. The first post is here. Professor Tamir is also the Director of Oxfam America’s Private Sector Department. In her role, she is focused on working with companies to ensure that their business practices result in positive social and environmental impacts for vulnerable communities throughout the world. She leads Oxfam America’s work on business and development including shareholder engagement, value chain assessments, and collaborative advocacy initiatives, such as the successful “Behind the Brands” campaign.


Seven years since the Rana Plaza disaster, the COVID-19 crisis is a stark reminder how businesses have a responsibility to their supply chain workers.

The COVID19 pandemic highlights, more than any recent crisis, the duty of Governments to provide social protection. For workers, social protection ensures strong labor policies, living wages, safe and healthy working conditions, and the ability to have a voice in the workplace — in particular, to raise issues when they arise without fear of retribution. It also means there is a safety net in place when disaster strikes and workers and producers are no longer able to make a living by providing unemployment compensation, sick leave, and insurance.

But, many governments have not lived up to this duty, because they lack the resources to be able to do so, they espouse a race to the bottom approach in attracting foreign investment, and/or because they have been corrupted by business sector influence.

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A Call for Reflection: Exams During COVID-19

As the Impact blog covered earlier in the semester, BC’s decision to go pass/fail led to a flurry of responses and emotions. Some were disappointed by the inability to boost their GPAs, while others were relieved to know that this meant they could dedicate more time to navigating the COVID crisis. But with exams just around the corner, I found myself reflecting on the meaning of exams and grades in law school.

Sure, at first after the pass/fail decision I thought to myself, “What exactly does passing mean and how much work do I really need to put in to get that passing grade?” Even with these looming thoughts, I still found myself regularly attending (Zoom) classes, keeping up with my readings, and getting a start on my outlines for finals. And I do not think I am alone here.

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Earth Day in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic

I am pleased to host a guest blog on Earth Day from Claudio Ferreira Ferraz, BC Law LLM ’15, of Ferraz, Pinto, Lino & Nemer. As a student, Claudio taught in BC Law’s unique seminar program, where senior law students teach their own individualized course in environmental law and policy to Boston College undergraduates, under the supervision of BC Law professor Zygmunt Plater.

This post was also published today at the Bar Association of Espirito Santo State, in Brazil.


Claudio Ferreira Ferraz, BC Law LLM ’15

On April 22, the Earth Day is celebrated all over the world.

The idea started 50 years ago in the United States, when activist Senator Gaylord Nelson, influenced by the environmental disaster caused by the oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, in 1969, decided to unite the energy of student movements against the Vietnam War and the growth of environmental awareness in the country

Nelson initially devised an educational event on university campuses aimed at fostering academic discussions focused on environment protection. He chose April 22nd as the ideal date to maximize student participation, since it was a Wednesday, that is, in the middle of the week, and it was located between Spring Break and the final exams.

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On Being a Parent in Law School–Covid-19 Edition

In the first days of social distancing, my daughter kept asking about school. She had a vague understanding of how weekends typically broke up her daycare routine but eventually it became clear that this one had stretched on to an absurd degree. Every morning for the first couple of weeks of lockdown she asked, “Baby go to school?” Then she rattled off the names of her teachers and classmates. Those early days were tough. She’s very social. School is thrilling for her. I was not an adequate replacement for ten friends and two loving teachers.

All work spaces and readings are shared.

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Admitted Student Guide: Vol 5

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.

A Deep Echo With No Return: Reflections From Italy

This guest blog from Italian student Maria Antonietta Sgro came to us from BC Law professor Katie Young. Professor Young had been scheduled to co-teach a course on law and technology in Italy this spring with professor Amedeo Santosuosso at the University of Pavia, but when his students went into lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the class was canceled. Professor Young invited the students to share their reflections on how their lives had been impacted by this disease, and Maria’s post below is one particularly moving answer.


1,206.07 km.

It’s not a random number. Maybe for some it’s insignificant, and for others it doesn’t mean anything. But for me it represents a barrier. A wall of distance that separates me from what has been my home, full of love, life, laughter, the sea and–last but not least–my family for 19 years.

I’m writing from my desk, illuminated with a lamp, because here in Pavia (in the northern part of Italy) it’s already dark at 6:45 p.m. Even though I can’t see anything from my window, I used to be able to know the difference between the sunrise, when the morning flowed fast, and the sunset, when the silence became comfortably pleasant after a long day full of noise. But now there seems to be no difference between day and night. Silence is my master, and I am always seeing gray.

I no longer hear the little birds singing; in good weather, their singing was pleasant. I no longer hear the children leaving school, screaming with happiness. I no longer hear my neighbor. Sometimes it seems that I no longer feel myself.

It’s like everything is rumbling, a deep echo with no return.

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I Miss BC, but Mostly the Free Coffee Served During Finals

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. 

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BC Law Releases Virtual Experiences for Admitted Students

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.

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A Business Lens on the Constitution

Impact is running a series of posts that were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we think the messages are too important to go unshared. Stay safe everyone, and please reach out to us at bclawimpact@bc.edu if we can do anything to help, or if you would like us to consider publishing a guest post on your own experiences during the outbreak.


Before our first class for Constitutional Law, our assignment was to read the Constitution in its entirety. As a recent business school graduate, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel and think of the United States as a business entity. Then, I started wondering, would the Constitution be its mission or vision statement?

In my operations and strategy courses at my undergraduate institution, we learned that a mission statement identifies an organization’s primary purpose for existing. For example, Google’s mission statement is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” On the other hand, a vision statement is a high-level statement of what the organization wants to achieve in the future. Following the previous example, Google’s vision statement is “to provide an important service to the world-instantly delivering relevant information on virtually any topic.”

Of course, I know it’s an immense oversimplification to analogize the nation to a business entity. Yet, I do find it an interesting exercise to explore whether the Constitution more establishes an identity for the country based on the framers’ perception – a more “mission statement” purpose – or whether it sets forth a foresight of what the country should aspire towards – a “vision statement” type of objective.

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