Learning in action:
Alistair Reader ('11) reflects on the complete law school experience

Alistair Reader

Alistair Reader

BU Law has tons of student groups that generate amazing extracurricular activities and networking events, says Alistair Reader ('11). I can't emphasize enough how important it is to take advantage of these complementary experiences and identify yourself with things you believe in. It's all a part of being a complete law student.

Reader speaks from rich experience. In addition to his coursework, he was a note editor for BU's Public Interest Law Journal, helped lead the National Moot Court team to victory at regionals, served as president of the BU Law chapter of the American Constitution Society (ACS) and spent three semesters in litigation clinics.

Confronting reality

When you are representing someone in a clinic who may be deported to a country where they likely will be killed, it brings a heavy dose of reality to classroom learning.

Reader got his first dose of real courtroom action when he enrolled in the full-year Housing, Employment, Family and Disability clinic at the start of his second year. There's no substitute for going to court and standing in front of a judge, he says. Most people discover within the first fifteen seconds whether litigation work is for them.

What sets BU Law's clinics apart, according to Reader, is that the program does more than throw students into the deep end to see if they can swim. Our work with clients and time in court is balanced with a parallel academic curriculum and structured practice in class, he explains. The combination makes for the best possible learning experience.

Connecting theory to policy

In addition to his two clinics, appellate competitions and journal activities, Reader's peak experiences came through his work as president of the BU Law's ACS chapter. ACS is a nationwide network of lawyers, law students, scholars, judges, policymakers and other concerned individuals dedicated to the fundamental principles of human dignity, individual rights and liberties, genuine equality and access to justice in American law. Working with ACS helped me connect the principles and ideas I learned in the classroom with the real world effects in public policy and the courts, explains Reader.

Reader and the 15-member student board he served with expanded ACS into one of the largest and most active groups at the school. We generated approximately 30 events during my tenure, he says. It was a great way to express my passion for policy and contribute to the community.

One of Reader's favorite events was a gun rights debate featuring Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and Alan Gura, lead counsel in the Second Amendment case McDonald v. Chicago. Hundreds of students turned out, he says, and were challenged by two strongly divergent perspectives from the front lines of this debate. It exemplified what goes on at BU Law. We don't pursue our degrees in a vacuum, and we push each other constantly to think about the role of the law in our society and to put our conclusions into action.

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