With the end of the semester upon us, my work with the Project Entrepreneur Clinic is wrapping up. For those who don’t know, Project Entrepreneur is focused on helping citizens with criminal records successfully reenter society and supplying them with a general knowledge of business law necessary for them to grow their business ventures. I wrote more about it in an earlier post here.
My peers and I have worked closely with our clients, helping them come up with a business plan for their ideas, researching legal issues that they have or may run into, and most importantly, helping them build confidence in themselves and their ideas.
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.
“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?
As part of BC Law’s Center for Experiential Learning Ninth Circuit Appellate Program, four of our third-year law students prepared briefs and argued today in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of indigent clients.
In the Ninth Circuit Appellate Program, supervised law students prepare briefs and argue immigration cases brought by indigent clients who would otherwise be without counsel. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, headquartered in San Francisco and hearing cases arising from Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona, screens pro se cases and selects those that present important issues that deserve further development. Past cases have included asylum, withholding, Convention Against Torture claims, questions relating to immigration consequences of criminal convictions, and issues of statutory interpretation that present questions of first impression to the Court.
The Court schedules the opening brief to be filed in October, the reply brief in January, and oral argument before a panel of sitting judges in April of the same academic year. Students travel to the court hearing to present oral argument. The Court then issues its decision based on the merits of the individual cases.
Students develop and apply numerous skills, including client communication, legal research, brief writing, and oral advocacy.
These students have been preparing all year for this day, and you can watch their arguments here:
Editor’s Note: Nirav Bhatt is the incoming President of the Boston College Law Students Association. Much like his predecessor, Nirav embodies the very best qualities that BC Law students have to offer. As his classmate, LSA colleague, and intramural basketball teammate, I can personally attest to the ways he pushes those around him to better both themselves and the BC community as a whole. In keeping with the Drake theme of this post’s title, he is and has been Steph Curry with the shot in all conceivable situations. Without further ado or musical references, I am very pleased to present…
If You’re Reading This You Should Commit to Boston College Law School
by Nirav Bhatt, President, Boston College Law Students Association 2015-16