During my 1L year of law school I spent a good amount of time helping my dad with a construction project that had me making frequent trips up and down Rt. 128 to Home Depot. I felt like I could drive the route in my sleep. One thing that stuck out to me was a particular office building perched atop the highway—one of those blocky corporate stockades that line a particular stretch of Rt. 128, from Newton to Burlington, a liminal badlands of office parks and office buildings that are largely products of the 1980s—an area that at one point was referred to as the “Silicon Valley of the East Coast.”
On the front of the building, glaring ominously down at the highway as if it were Wayne Enterprises or ExxonMobil or Waystar Royco, is the name “Wolters Kluwer”—a Dutch information services conglomerate, better known to us all as the maker of many of our casebooks. As 1L went on, and the brand name became an omnipresent feature of our daily studies (as well as the beneficiary of hundreds of dollars spent on textbooks per student per semester), I became curious as to what exactly this racket is all about.
Much like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, I came to law school to find love. Well, sorta… Unlike Ms. Woods, my love story is with the practice area of tax law.
To be completely candid, I had no intention of becoming a tax attorney when I first applied to law school. I didn’t even intend to ever take a tax class. From the moment I signed up for the LSAT, my Uncle John, who is a CPA, always claimed I was going to be a tax attorney, and I always dismissed him. Tax law, for me, was like the quiet nerd the main character in a rom-com takes forever to see as more than just a friend.
My “meet cute” with Tax was when I had the last pick time to sign up for classes for my 2L fall, and it was one of the only classes open that fit into my schedule. My Uncle John is always badgering me about becoming a tax attorney, I thought. Why don’t I take Tax I, ultimately fail it, and then never hear or speak of tax law again?
Spoiler alert: This ended up being far from the truth.
BC Law Impact Editor’s Note: We pride ourselves at Boston College Law School on our unique community that cultivates an incredible student body with a brilliant faculty. The BC Impact Blog is launching a faculty spotlight Q&A series to highlight the members of our faculty throughout the next year.
Easily one of my favorite 1L classes has been Law Practice. Known as “LP” to all BC Law students, Law Practice focuses on teaching students the practical skills that they will use everyday in their eventual careers as attorneys. Students spend a great deal of time mastering legal writing and research, learning the Bluebook and system of legal citations as well as how to use research tools such as Lexis and Westlaw. Writing their objective office memo (a memo offering an objective analysis of a legal issue for an internal audience) is a rite of passage for BC law students, and was easily one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of my first semester. Second semester sees a pivot to advocacy skills, with students learning the basics of oral argument and shifting to writing for an external audience such as briefs for courts.
For this week’s blog I sat down with Professor Mary Ann Chirba to learn a bit more about her background and teaching at BC. Beloved by students, Professor Chirba is a full-time member of BC’s Law Practice Faculty as well as teaching other law and undergraduate courses.
Today I am hosting a guest blog post from Governor Jane Swift, who is currently the Rappaport Center for Law & Public Policy Distinguished Visiting Professor.
The ironies abound. First, the course I am teaching at Boston College Law School is titled, “Governing in the Era of Facebook: Privacy, Propaganda & the Public Good.” The entire course is premised on the speed of innovation and how it is rapidly changing the nature of work and learning and challenging the legal and regulatory sectors. Second, I have been an executive in the Education Technology industry for nearly two decades. I have run online learning companies and sold and delivered online courses to schools and colleges. So, if anyone should have been ready to quickly pivot their face-to-face teaching as a Rappaport visiting professor from traditional delivery to online, that guest professor should have been me. If I could play a guitar or sing, however, I would have written and tried to get this video to trend.
One thing is really important to put in perspective from the get-go. What is happening this spring semester, where schools are continuing to deliver coursework to college and university students, is decidedly NOT online learning. True online courses, like the ones my colleagues and I built at Middlebury Interactive Languages, take months and sometimes years to build. They depend on professionals with specific expertise in course design to translate pedagogy from in-person to online. Even in online learning, there is huge variation in the degree of features and functionality, the use of video and audio, whether assessments are embedded in the course, and how those are proctored. None of that can happen at scale, securely in a three day or two week period. Instead, what you see now would more fairly be categorized as distance learning or – and even this is a stretch – as blended learning.
Editor’s note: due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Boston College has moved all classes online and sent students home for the semester. The BC Law Impact blog has suspended its normal posting schedule, and bloggers are now focused on writing about the impact of the shutdown and the current state of the world on their academic and social experiences as law students. We are all in this together; let’s find our way through together.
I am a law student who, like everyone else at BC Law (and literally everywhere else on Earth), wishes this wasn’t happening.
I am a student attorney trying to figure out how to help my clients, since the courts have all but shut down.
I am a millennial who has grown up in endless war, and I probably have a lot of residual trauma from multiple mass shootings in my community.
I am a teacher whose first grade Hebrew students are going stir-crazy in their homes while I try to teach them on Zoom.
I am a daughter of parents whose small business has been shuttered in this crisis.
I am a sister worrying about my siblings who are suddenly out of work without a safety net to fall back on.
I am a partner of a full-time graduate student, who is also doing his learning and his part-time teaching jobs from our apartment.
But before all of those things, I am a human being living in a community that is being tested like never before, in ways large and small.
One of the things I was most looking forward to as a 2L was being able to select my own classes. Unlike my undergraduate experience where it felt like the list of required courses was never-ending and took up most of my schedule, BC Law gives students a ton of flexibility when it comes to deciding their courses of study.
My strategy to picking classes falls into three categories: classes that will prepare me for the bar, classes that I think will be helpful in practice, and classes that I simply find interesting. Last semester I tended to focus on bar classes (including Evidence and Corporations), but my spring course load is filled with classes that I thought sounded interesting.
Below I provide a brief overview of my spring semester, including why I chose to take the classes I did: