Many of us attend law school to help our communities, whether through policy work, representing marginalized clients, or integrating pro bono work into our practice. However, it’s very easy for our doctrinal classes to feel removed from our ultimate purposes.
As a Law Practice Professor, Professor Bratt teaches students the skills they will use in practice, like conducting legal research, writing predictive memoranda, and drafting motions to a court. Professor Bratt–no surprise to those who know her–goes above and beyond her responsibilities as a Law Practice Professor. Not only is she a thoughtful, caring professor, but she also works with Lawyers Clearinghouse to give 1Ls discrete opportunities to assist marginalized clients with their legal issues. Professor Bratt creates opportunities for students to work with clients in need of legal services. This experience was the highlight of my 1L year, and it made me feel like I had more to offer the world and my new community in Boston.
I sat down with Professor Bratt to discuss the opportunities that lead her to her dream job, what brought her to teach Law Practice at BC Law and to get to know her beyond the classroom.
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.
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.
Recently I sat down with Prof. Brian Quinn as part of the faculty spotlight series.
Prof. Quinn’s class was the first class I ever had at BC Law (at 9 am on August 31st, 2020, my first day of law school no less) and while I have yet to take other classes with him, he’s appeared on our podcast, and has been a mentor and a voice of reason for me. When I was asked to write a profile of a professor for the faculty spotlight series, I figured Prof. Quinn would be a good choice.
Tell me about yourself and your career.
I lived life by accident. If you look at my resume in reverse it begins to make sense, but I did not have much of a plan. I’m from Westfield, New Jersey and received my undergraduate degree from Georgetown University. My mom is from Spain, and I spent my summers there when I was younger. In college, I felt like I had to take up something like Latin American studies, but found it boring. I accepted an opportunity sophomore year to work at a refugee camp in the Philippines for Vietnamese refugees in the late 1980s.
I saw it as an escape, learned some Vietnamese, and upon returning to Georgetown received an offer to travel to Vietnam as the first undergraduate student from Georgetown to visit there following the Vietnam War.
When you first encounter Professor Daniel Lyons standing in front of your Property class, you may be intimidated by the impeccable three-piece suit, astonishing poise and brilliance, and, of course, the iconic fedora. His cold calls have left many trembling to this day. Yet, I can say definitively that Professor Lyons is one of the best professors on our campus. It’s no surprise that the school chose him to serve as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for the next few years.
I sat down with Professor Lyons to pull back the curtain a bit and highlight a different, lighter, more familiar side of one of BC Law’s best.
BC Law lost one of its giants a few weeks ago as Professor Catharine Wells passed away over spring break. She was a graceful, thoughtful, and yet commanding presence at the Law School. While there was a lovely tribute piece to her from BC Law Magazine, which included many quotes and stories from her former colleagues, there has not been a tribute from those she impacted most over her decades-long career: her students. I wanted to include some quotes and stories from students, present and past, who could properly convey what type of a person, leader, educator–and most of all human being–Professor Wells was, and what she meant to them.
The idea came to me as I walked by her old office in the East Wing the other day. I noticed a small bouquet sitting outside of her door. It wasn’t an over-the-top assortment of flowers, but it still caught my attention because of how much it reminded me of Professor Wells. It stood there in a kind of dignified, not in-your-face type of way. Its grace reminded me of a particular scene from my 1L year that I still remember fondly, and now with some sadness, of course.
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 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. 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 by Irit Tamir, an adjunct professor at BC Law who teaches Business and Human Rights. She 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. Irit 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.
Business has an important role to play in addressing the health and economic impacts of this crisis. Here’s a checklist of what companies can, and should, do.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for governments to take their duties seriously in protecting people and their human rights. Society’s ills can never be solved by business and markets alone. For several decades, the US government has taken a back seat as it relied on the private sector to solve public challenges—a system that is now being shaken to the core as benefits tied to employment are lost with jobs, and business is forced to shut down.
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.