A Grateful Listener: Family Court Judge Reflects on Lessons Learned

Today I’m very pleased to be able to host a guest blog from the Hon. James V. Menno ‘86, who recently retired after more than two decades of service as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court.

Despite the number of people sitting on the hard benches in this sunlit courtroom, there is a respectful silence.  An ordinary person is sitting in the witness box.  She has taken an oath to tell the truth.  Her descriptive answers to her attorney’s questions begin to weave together a story.  It is a deeply personal story that provides unique insight into her and the children of her fractured family.  She tells this story to another ordinary person, me, who also happens to be the judge. We are separated by a bench, a black robe and the roles we play.  But we are joined together as co-participants in the daily unfolding of the actual Rule of Law.

Her role is to honestly tell the difficult story that has led to this moment. Tomorrow, her husband will sit in the same chair and do the same.  My role is to listen to them as unique individuals, determine which facts are true, and (utilizing the applicable law) make a decision that will allow them and their children to transition from one family to two single-parent families.  Whew! What a daunting task this is for both of us, the storyteller and the listener.

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Our Woman of the Year

I am pleased to host a guest post from co-presidents of the Boston College Law School Women’s Law Center, Liz Dwyer and Stacey Kourtis.

The Women’s Law Center aims to impact both its student members and the entire BC Law community by providing networking opportunities with women in the legal community, maintaining strong ties with women alumni for mentorship, and by providing a forum for discussion about women’s issues at BC Law and beyond. For us, the WLC has served as a supportive and engaging group here at BC Law. We’re proud to be members of the Women’s Law Center where we have both had the opportunity to meet wonderful women at BC Law, alumnae, and faculty.

Every year, the Women’s Law Center at BC Law  chooses one alumna who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to advancing an area of the legal profession and recognizes her as the WLC’s Woman of the Year. This year, the Women’s Law Center nomination committee chose to present the 10th Annual Woman of the Year Award to Josephine McNeil ’87.

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An Inside Look at Judicial Clerkships

I am pleased to host a Q&A with Andrew Trombly, ’14, who gives his insights on his clerkships with Judge Paul Barbadoro, USDC, District of NH and Judge Robert Bacharach, US Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit.

Why did you decide to apply for a clerkship?
I thought that clerking would offer a good opportunity – particularly for somebody just out of law school – to write a lot and to learn about a wide variety of areas of law. Also, I wanted to observe the judicial process from a judge’s perspective. Short of actually becoming a judge, clerking is probably the only chance a litigator will ever have to do so.

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A Film to Make Our Alma Mater Proud

I am pleased to host a guest post today from Vincent Lau, BC Law ’97. Alumni, please note that the Sung sisters will be special guests speakers for the Alumni Assembly at this year’s Reunion on November 3. If this is your reunion year, we hope you will attend! ABACUS will be screened earlier that day on the Law School campus, and the Rappaport Center will also host a panel discussion after the screening, open to all.

ABACUS premieres on PBS Frontline on September 12.


I was recently invited to a special screening of the new PBS documentary film ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail. First of all, a disclaimer: this is not a film review. I have no credentials to dissect whether ABACUS was well done from a technical or an artistic standpoint. What I can share are my reactions, and this documentary resonated with me on several fronts. The fact that the story (and film) involves several BC Law alumnae makes it even more compelling for our community. I would encourage everyone to go see it.

Abacus is a community bank located in the heart of New York’s Chinatown. Thomas Sung, an immigrant and a lawyer, opened the bank so that he could meet the needs of the people there. He later convinced two of his four daughters (one a BC Law alum) to join him, by arguing that working in a community bank lending money to local entrepreneurs is an important and effective way of giving back to the community. Continue reading

A Time for Reflection

Note: I’m pleased to host a guest blog today from Ed Hanley, Class of 1986. Ed is tax director of a regional accounting firm in San Francisco. He started being involved as an alumnus in 1989 when he joined the Alumni Board as the young alumni representative. When he moved to Washington DC, he joined with Carroll Dubuq (Class of 1962) to co-found the BC Law Club of Washington, DC. He is active in alumni events on the West Coast and recently rejoined the board of the Alumni Association, taking partial responsibility for reunions.

Ed and his partner Bill split their time between San Francisco and Popponesset Beach, Cape Cod.

Reunion Weekend is an excellent opportunity to catch up with old friends, take in the sights and sounds of a campus so similar and yet so very different from years ago, and to remember why BC Law is such a special place. This year’s Reunion brought up so many memories for me—and a few surprises, too.

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Toward Inclusivity and Cultural Competence

Hi everyone and happy summer! I am very pleased to be able to host a guest blog today from the BC Law Alumni Board member Ingrid Schroffner, Assistant General Counsel at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.


I am passionate about—and feel fortunate to be able to work on—diversity and unconscious bias issues at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). My cross-cultural upbringing and my experience as an Asian-American lawyer contribute to my interest in this area.

My maternal grandfather immigrated from Okinawa to Hawaii in the first part of the 20th century to work in the sugarcane fields. I attended Japanese school when I was a child, and my household was filled with Japanese culture.

I also have a cross-cultural, East-West perspective. My father is a first-generation immigrant from Salzburg, Austria. I learned German from my father (and later, in school) and spent a summer living and working in Austria with my relatives. None of my grandparents spoke English. These two diverse heritages comprise my background.

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A Letter to the Class of 2019 from the President-Elect of the LSA

Editor’s Note: Alex Porter will serve as the President of the Boston College Law Students Association for the 2016-17 academic year. Much like his predecessor, Alex embodies the very best qualities that BC Law students have to offer. As a member of the Boston College Law Review alongside him, I know for a fact that as incoming students you will be in very capable hands. Without further ado, I am very pleased to present his welcome letter to the Class of 2019.

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President-Elect Alex Porter (second from right) along with three of his classmates.

Congratulations on your admission to Boston College Law School!

This August, you will become the newest (and most celebrated!) members of our truly extraordinary community.  It is a community that eschews one-size-fits-all happiness because we choose instead to value the whole person.  Here, it matters that you were the captain of your track team in college, or served as an aide to the Secretary of Transportation, or had first-hand knowledge of tort law due to an unfortunate car accident.  Here, whether your family came on the Mayflower or whether you just stepped off the plane from Bangalore, your classmates will want to know – and will value – your story. Please understand that this doesn’t mean an easy ride; you will work harder than you ever have in your life, and you will be challenged to achieve more than you thought possible in the classroom and beyond. But you will do it in a supportive, caring environment that lifts you up so we all get there together, rather than tearing you down.

Friendly competition can be a great thing, but cutthroat competition is not, and we won’t stand for that here.

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Opening Act II: A Twenty-Year Reunion

Hello everyone! This week, I’m hosting a guest blog from Tom Burton ‘96, the new Alumni Association President. I’m thrilled that he has agreed to write about his BC Law experience for Impact.

Tom chairs Mintz Levin’s Energy Technology Practice, which he founded over 12 years ago. His global practice focuses on complex corporate finance matters including mergers and acquisitions, venture capital, private equity, and securities transactions for energy and clean technology companies. He is ranked by Best Lawyers in America in the Corporate Law section, and he has been recognized by The Legal 500 United States as “rising to the fore” in energy technology for Venture Capital and Emerging Companies. In the community, Tom serves as President of the Boston College Law School Alumni Association, Chairman of the Board of Overseers and Trustee of the New England Aquarium and an Advisory Committee Member of the Flutie Spectrum Enterprises, LLC. Tom is also a member of the firm’s Policy Committee, its Board of Directors equivalent.

Twenty years. For quite a few of you reading this post, twenty years is nearly a lifetime. For me, and for my classmates from ’96, it marks the halfway point in our careers. Our upcoming twenty-year reunion in November has given me pause to reflect on that slightly sobering fact, and to think about my BC Law friends and classmates. What strikes me the most are their tremendous professional successes across the board.

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A Mutual Respect: The Glue that Binds Us

Hello everyone! This week, I’m hosting a guest blog from Margie Palladino ’85, the outgoing Alumni Board Chair for Reunions. I’m thrilled that she’s agreed to write about her BC Law experience for Impact.

Margie was the recipient of the Boston College Law School’s Outstanding Reunion Volunteer Award for generating record attendance for her class’s 25th reunion. Margie is principal of Reunions Reinvented LLC, a business that generates momentum for professional school reunions. She is a former partner at the Boston law firm of Sherburne, Powers and Needham, now known as Holland and Knight. 

Nearly 600 people came together in November to celebrate the BC Law School reunions. It was wonderful to witness so many alumni—young and old—reconnecting with classmates and professors and rekindling memories of their law school days. There were BC Law alumni from all walks of life: the judiciary, private firms, corporations, public service, academia, and government (including a state governor, US senator, and several congressional representatives). Equally impressive was the number of alumni present who had stepped out of the legal profession temporarily or permanently to take care of their families or pursue entrepreneurial, volunteer, and other valued interests.

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Thoughts from a Double Eagle: We Are BC

2Ls (from left) Maria Colella, Ashley Gambone, and Margaret Capp ran the Red Bandanna Run with me on October 24th.

2Ls (from left) Maria Colella, Ryan Murphy, Ashley Gambone, and Margaret Capp, pictured with BC mascot Baldwin, ran the Red Bandanna Run on October 24th.

As I introduced myself to classmates, professors and administrators during orientation and throughout the first few weeks of 1L year, many of them asked where I attended college, or why I chose BC Law. I told them that I went to Boston College, and had such a great experience that I thought it would have been crazy, if given the chance to come back to BC, to go to law school anywhere else. I couldn’t even picture it. Their response was, more times than not, “oh, so you’re a double eagle!”

I had heard the phrase “double eagle” tossed around in college from time to time. For those of you who haven’t, members of the BC community affectionately call people with two BC degrees (including diplomas from BC High) “double eagles.” Similarly, the more exclusive “triple eagle” title signifies three BC degrees.

Being from New York, and not knowing many BC alumni, the term “double eagle” never seemed like more than a catchphrase used in the community. But as I get closer to attaining my second degree, it has become much more than that for me.

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