I’m in East Wing 115, the very first room I sat in as a brand-new BC Law student. It’s the room that looks so much like a Greek amphitheater and feels like one, too, when the questioning begins. The lights aren’t even on because it’s 8am, a full half-hour before Contracts, and dammit. I’m not even the first one here. Walking to my seat, I shake my head. Who gets up early for Contracts at 8:30 in the morning?! It’s a ridiculous question, of course, because the answer is Me. I get up early for Contracts. It’s just that…I didn’t think anyone else would. And it’s not just one else, either. There are a good half-dozen elses, chatting softly together in the gently lit dark. I shake my head again. Madness.
By eight-fifteen, the classroom is full. Section 2 is present and accounted for. Hillinger could walk in and start her
interrogation critical questioning, and no one would bat an eye. Everyone is ready, anyway. Somebody tapped the lights on the way in, and now the classroom blazes with life and energy and conversation.
The TV sitcom Frasier debuted on NBC in 1993. The premier episode introduced the series’ principal characters and the plot of the show: a Seattle psychiatrist turned radio host, Frasier Crane, returning to the city after working in Boston following the events of Cheers, alongside his brother Niles, also a psychiatrist, and his father, Martin, a widower and former police officer who retired after being shot and permanently impaired by a suspect following a long career on the force.
Martin and his dog Eddie move into his son’s upscale, downtown apartment, followed by his housekeeper and English physical therapist, Daphne Moon. Frasier becomes upset by the dated furniture his dad brings, as well as having the dog indoors, setting up a clash of independence, age, lifestyle, culture, perspective, and family. The two get on each other’s nerves and have a fiery argument.
The next day on his radio show, Frasier goes to the phones to talk to his callers, only to find an apologetic Martin on the line. Frasier then apologizes for his own arrogance and reconciles with his father.
It’s a clash of two different worlds, to be sure. I am reminded of this scene as I am faced with my first day of 3L, and, in all likelihood, my last ever first day of school. In my own mind, I feel like both Frasier and his dad at times—in the middle of a transition to a new life, but with a foot still firmly planted in the past.
I grew up in Techwood, a housing project of inner-city Atlanta. Until it was razed in preparation for the ’96 Summer Olympics, Techwood was widely regarded as one of the most dangerous projects of any city in the country. Bodies in gutters and on gurneys, overdoses, gang violence, drive-bys. I saw it all. I still do, from time to time. So I escaped. Left it all behind. And I didn’t need a Wardrobe or a Tardis or a tricked-out DeLorean. All I had to do was press the ‘walk’ button, wait for the light to change, and walk across the street. It was just that easy. And when I stepped on the far sidewalk, as if by magic, the world changed from the pitted, blood-stained sidewalks of Techwood to the manicured lawns of Georgia Tech. That was my Narnia, my middle-Earth, my galaxy far far away. Use whatever metaphors and similes you can find. But the campus of Georgia Tech was as magical and mystical as any of those fantasy lands, except that this one was real. And it was mine.
Take a handful of BC Law students and ask them who their favorite professor is—odds are at least one of them will say Professor Cassidy. Don’t get me wrong, we have so many great professors at BC Law, but between teaching criminal law, professional responsibility, and evidence, most students have had the pleasure of taking a class with Professor Cassidy at least once.
That said, it isn’t just a matter of variety. Beyond the wide breadth of classes he teaches, Professor Cassidy also keeps students enthusiastically engaged with his breakdown of complex legal topics and lighthearted anecdotes.
I sat down with Professor Cassidy to ask him about his own law school experience, career, and favorite things about BC Law.
1) Have you always wanted to be an attorney? Growing up did you think this is where you would end up?
I decided I wanted to be an attorney in the 9th grade when I read “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I was inspired by how lawyers could give voice to the voiceless in our society and be an instrument of change. I didn’t know any lawyers, except those I caddied for at the golf club. My parents were blue collar workers.
2) What was your favorite thing about law school? Least favorite?
I pretty much hated law school. Harvard Law School in the early to mid 1980’s was not a happy place to be. Several faculty who focused on Critical Legal Studies had left for other schools or had been denied tenure. Back then HLS was nicknamed the “Beirut on the Charles” because all the faculty were at war with each other. Very few of them had a student-focused perspective on their responsibilities.
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. This post is part of an ongoing faculty spotlight Q&A series to help students get to know the members of our faculty on a more personal level.
What do you like most about BC and why?
As hokey as it is to say, the answer is the students. I have found it to be universally true that the students are super happy to be here, kind to each other, but also really open minded in the very best sense — the sense of being able to come into class and just engage with wherever we go. So, if we’re talking about something difficult, the students are open to it and respectful with each other, but also really curious. It’s easy to create really rich academic environments because there’s sort of a low barrier of entry for the students. Compared to other teaching I’ve done at other places, I’ve just found it incredibly gratifying to be able to come into a classroom and know that, whatever you bring to the classroom, students are going to be up for it. Even if they’re sometimes surprised or off-balance, they’re not hostile, and so that means you can really do stuff in class that otherwise might be harder to do.
My name is John Ferraro, and I’m a current 3L and LSA Co-President. In what is admittedly an attempt to put out of my mind the looming fear of imminent Barbri bar prep, I hope I can ask all of you to indulge me in a short adventure in the past.
Before law school, I was a digital programmatic media buyer (for those of you wondering what that means, we are the people that push on you, for the rest of your life, the online ads for that toaster you looked at once on Amazon).
Going from advertising to law school was a bit of a drastic change. But the idea to go to law school had been nagging at the back of my mind since my senior year of undergrad. Even during my time in advertising, law was front and center. IP concerns over trademarks, fonts, and brand colors. As someone mainly supporting the marketing efforts of a large financial institution, crash courses on Fair Lending and FDIC disclosures. And most of all, the one four-letter word for which digital advertisers and lawyers share horror: GDPR. So while I made a significant jump, it was a jump motivated by signs I couldn’t ignore any longer.
I will concede that, for me (as I suspect it is for many), the law school application process felt like shots in the dark. I had some ideas of possible interests, cities I thought might be fun to live in, how I might approach the LSAT and a personal statement. But when working to fit a good picture of yourself into a neat sheath of 8.5×11 papers, uncertainty is an inherent part of the process. In terms of picking a school to attend, I admit that I similarly felt I was on shaky ground. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the choice of picking a law school was one of–if not the–most important choices of my life.
I had Professor Brodin for Civil Procedure during 1L, and I had a great time in his class. I also ended up taking Evidence with him during my 2L year, which was actually one of my favorite law school classes. I am currently in his employment discrimination class this semester, as well. I recently had the chance to interview him and learn a bit more about his background, his BC Law story, and his hidden talent for music.
To begin, can you tell us a bit about your background?
I was born in the Bronx and then moved to Queens as a young child. Around age 9, we moved to Long Island, where I went to public school. I moved back to Manhattan for both college and law school at Columbia. After law school, I moved up here to Boston since I ended up clerking for a judge at the federal district court here.
If you’re reading this article, I am assuming you have been accepted into law school. In that case, congratulations! You will never have to deal with the LSAT again. Now, you just have to decide where you want to go. Here are some tips that helped me.
- If you’re waitlisted somewhere, decide what school you want to attend in the meantime with the mindset that you will not get off a waitlist. You want to pick a school that you can envision yourself at for the next three years. While that might seem hypocritical because I transferred, transferring is not always a guarantee because just like the preliminary law school admissions process, it is unpredictable with a variety of factors that are out of your control. I was very lucky that it worked out for me. You also do not want to have a negative attitude towards your law school–while you do not have to be head over heels in love with your school, you should not feel any regret or dread of attending.
- Reach out to the admissions office of your law school and ask them to connect you with a law student(s) that graduated from your undergraduate institution. This helps you get an idea of how the transition will be, especially if you are attending a different university than you did for undergrad. I did this at my previous law school, and I gained not only helpful insights and advice, but also mentors and friends.
- Talk to more than one student about their experience. Law schools are not one size fits all and everyone’s experience is different. You might talk to someone who will write love letters to their school on Valentine’s Day (which, if you have read my previous post, I am guilty of). However, talk to students who have different experiences to try to get a more well rounded perspective.
- Visit the town/city where the school is located, if possible. You’re not only committing to a law school for three years, you’re also committing to the city, its weather, etc. You have to not only be happy with the school itself, but with your living environment. This may come as a shock, but there is life outside of law school.
- Visit the school. With COVID restrictions getting lifted all over, most schools are giving in-person tours again. Seeing the school in-person, especially while school is in session, makes all the difference than looking at pictures online. BC Law is welcoming in-person visitors and giving tours. I might even be your tour guide if you come.
No matter what your admissions outcome is, just know that by getting accepted to a law school, you already accomplished the hard part. Once school starts, you have to just believe in yourself and your future success and that you’re where you are for a reason. It will all work out.
Melissa Gaglia is a second-year student at BC Law. Contact her at email@example.com.
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. This post is part of an ongoing faculty spotlight Q&A series to help students get to know the members of our faculty on a more personal level. It will run throughout the next year.
- Why did you choose to teach at BC Law?
I am a graduate. I think that it’s a great law school and that the students are fantastic. I couldn’t imagine teaching anywhere else.
- What is your favorite thing about BC?
The students–still attracting really nice people to study here, and I think that’s a real plus.
- What is your favorite BC Memory?
That’s a tough one. Probably my favorite memories are of Sanford Katz and Peter Donovan, two fantastic faculty members here. I had the pleasure of taking their courses when I was a student.
- If you were on a baseball team what would your walkout song be?
Sweet Caroline, keeping with my Boston roots.
- If you weren’t a professor or a lawyer, what would you be doing? What is your dream job?
Probably I would be in medicine.
- What is your favorite thing about Boston?
I grew up in Boston. I would say the Boston Harbor and the ocean. I spent a lot of time running around Castle Island, a park in South Boston, when I was a kid.
- If someone visiting Boston asked you what is the one thing they had to do, what would you tell them?
Definitely go to a Red Sox game–and do the Harbor walk.
The inaugural holder of the William J. Kenealy, S.J. Chair, Professor Repetti is co-author of the texts, Partnership Income Taxation, Introduction to United States International Taxation, Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation, Problems in Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation, and Tax Aspects of Organizing and Operating a Business. He is also a contributing author to the treatises, Comparative Income Taxation: A Structural Analysis and to The International Guide to Partnerships. For more, visit Professor Repetti’s website.
Melissa Gaglia is a second-year student at BC Law. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Returning to school after Spring Break is always an adjustment. You’ve relaxed, you’ve slept in, and, if you’re luckier than me, you’ve traveled to a tropical destination. Getting up for your 9 am lectures and spending late nights briefing cases can feel harder than ever, especially as the weather is starting to get warmer. I don’t know about you, but I thought it was much easier to hunker down and read when it was freezing cold and dark at 4 pm.
And yet, just as these factors are combining to make motivation for school drop to its lowest, we’re also approaching the home stretch of the semester when it’s the most crucial to keep motivation up.
If you need inspiration to keep going through these last weeks until summer, here are some tips.