I finally began to really do civil rights as a vocation when Ed Brook was elected Attorney General. And he had a place in his staff for lawyers working on civil rights. He knew what I wanted to do because he and I had worked together in the NAACP and in organizations, and he knew of my passion for civil rights, and he knew I wasnít happy doing anything else. And so he appointed me as an assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division.
And then I went to the federal government and I worked in Fair Housing at HUD and then came back and I worked at the Mass Housing Finance Agency. In the Mass Housing Finance agencies, those that wanted to do business with us had to do it according to the civil rights laws. They had to be inclusive. They had to hire inclusively. They had to rent their properties inclusively. So my role was to draft the programs for them because, while I maintained that most people wanted to do the right thing, I think in this area they just didnít know what to do, so they needed somebody to lead them. When owners set out to hire managers, to hire housing managers, they never looked to the minority communities for people. And when I would ask them who they had on their staff and how many people they had on their staff of different types, theyíd come back and theyíd say, ďWell we canít find any.Ē So I went to my director and I said, ďYou know, I think Iím going about this the wrong way. Maybe we ought to start some training programs, and to train some people so they can no longer say they canít find anybody. They can come to our program.Ē And it was my job to see to it that all of this activity took place taking into consideration the needs of everybody. And I really enjoyed seeing them come alive and then volunteer and plan it themselves, come into my office with a plan that they have done, not that I had to do for them.
I spent twelve years as a member of the national board of the YWCA of the USA. And at the end of the twelve years, I was elected president. And I spent six years as president of the national board of the YWCA. In that capacity I did quite a bit of traveling, because we are the largest YWCA in the world. I would sometimes do workshops on racial justice, Iíd sometimes do them on leadership, on womenís leadership, and the kinds of issues that the YWCA was working on that they may want somebody from the United States to come and give themósometimes it wasnít just information, but they wanted somebody to give them the aspiration and the desire for them to move up. But any way that we as this YWCA could help YWCAs in another country, we did that. And we did it with youth, too. We sent many young women who never thought theyíd ever get out of the country, you know, there they were sitting over there in Botswana. As I like to say: I did a lot for them, but they certainly did a lot for me. Because they sent me places I never would have gone. I met people that I never would have met: wonderful, wonderful women around the world that are doing all sorts of wonderful things. And it was a joy.
I think the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination was probably the most rewarding. And that was because the laws had just been passed, and those of us who were enforcing them at the time had to figure out how to enforce them. And moving the agency from a social work type of view to an enforcement view, because thatís what it was up until then. You know: ďWeíre going to make everybody good, so weíre going to do everything to make everybody good.Ē Well, they have to obey the laws, and so you canít always make everybody good. So when I went in, they didnít have lawyers. I had been doing the legal work and I knew they needed it, that I really needed some lawyers. Once we built a good legal staff, we could make the agency into an enforcement agency. And so that was very rewarding and probably the highlight of my work.
My professional goal was to get rid of discrimination and segregation; thatís why I went to law school. So that was my goal, to get rid of that, get rid of discrimination and segregation in all areas of operation. And thatís what I set out to do. And I couldnít conquer them all, but I think I put a dent in quite a few. I would do it all over again.
There are a lot of new fields. Iím running into lawyers all time, that when they tell me what theyíre doing, Iím saying, ďOh, my! I didnít know lawyers were doing those things!Ē There are laws to take care of a lot of issues that there werenít laws to take care of then. For instance, the country wasnít dealing a lot with environmental issues. It is now. The country wasnít dealing a lot with problems in health care. Of course, it is now. And there are a lot of opportunities for lawyers in all of these fields. So those are issues that are still being worked on by lawyers. But itís wonderful to find someone who wants to struggle with it. And of course, thatís what most people donít know: that lawyers struggle a lot with these issues before we come up with a solution. Itís not in the law book; youíve got to figure out how to do it, what kind of writ to bring, what kind of suit to bring. Itís tough work.
I would tell them not to get settled in on what they want to do with their law. Wait until theyíve been through some of the courses, some of the years, before they decide what it is they want to do. Because theyíre probably going to change their mind several times. They may have several careers before theyíre over. They have to believe in themselves and not be disturbed or be put off because theyíre not successful all the time. Because itís not always their fault. Theyíre not making the decisionsósomebody else is. And their role is to try to persuade so that the decision comes their way. And to step back and come again. You know? As Thurgood Marshall used to say, ďIf the judge doesnít buy one argument, you give them another one.Ē
What I enjoyed about my profession as a lawyer was the opportunity to help somebody as a lawyer, because itís very clear that lawyers are in a positionóthey may not always win their casesóbut they can make the kind of impression that will make a difference for the person that theyíre representing. And I enjoyed trying cases, particularly where I had someone, representing someone, whom I felt was innocent, and that I was able to convince a jury of that.
There was a vacancy in the Boston Municipal Court in downtown Boston, and I applied for it. And unbeknownst to me, and without my suggestion, a group of women in the community who knew about my activities there and were aware of the kinds of things I had been doing in the community called upon the governor and said to the governor, ďWe want you to appoint Harry Elam to that judgeship in the Boston Municipal Court.Ē And why: ďHis activities in the community.Ē And they felt that I had merited an opportunity to become a judge. And it was two days later, I got a call from Governor Sargent asking me would I accept an appointment to the Boston Municipal Court.
What I enjoyed about the Superior Court was the fact that they were principally jury trials that we had, and the district courts and municipal courts, at that time, were courts that did not have juries. I remember one time I was assigned to be the judge in a court in Salem in Essex County. Well, they had never had a black judge up there before. So when I pulled up into the court area, looking for the parking space for the judges, I saw it, and I pulled in. And just as I pulled into the parking space, a court officer in the court ran out to me, ďHey, you canít park there. Canít you see itís for judges?Ē So I said, ďWhat the hell do you think I am? Court officer?Ē Well his face turned so red, and so when he saw me getting out of the car with my robeÖAnd he couldnít do enough for me during that period of time that I served in that county. That was one of the experiences that I had.
I was asked to make a presentation on why the need for diversity in the court system.† And as a result of that, the courts began to hire probation officers, court clerks, assistant court clerks and other positions that they had never held before throughout the Commonwealth. And also, I was involved with the NAACP as a legal counsel. I took on a lot of cases pro bono that involved civil rights of individuals and did that for a number of years. And the Urban League of Greater Boston, which helped to find jobs for people of color, I served as the president there, and on the board of directors for about 10 years. And so I formed an organization called Project Commitment, in which I tried to involve judges, particularly of color, and probation officers, and district attorneys, and defense lawyers, court personnel. I wanted the young people in these schools to understand that they, too, you know, these were jobs that they, too, could perform. They could become a judge, an attorney, a probation officer. Today there are opportunities for peopleÖAnd women! When I went to law school, I think there were three women in the class of 300. I think in most law schools today, women represent at least 50% of their student body. And the practice of law, women are into many of the law firms as partners.
Yes, there came a time when I received a telephone call from Ed Brook, who was a BU alumnus three years before me. And he and my brother were good friends and were in the service together. And my brother evidently had told him that I was having a difficult time finding a job in the law. And at that time, he offered me an opportunity to come into his office and to work with him. And I accepted it readily. And I used to follow him around to the various courts in which he was trying cases. He was a gifted lawyer, and I learned quite a bit from being around him and in his office. And I soon began to get clients on my own.
Thereís so much out there today thatís available that wasnít there years ago. And the attitudes that were there years ago are not there today, so that there really is no excuse. If you prepare yourself, if you work hard, and you feel that this is a goal that you can achieve, you will.
What Students Say
The BU Law Difference
Shawanna Johnson: Prior to law school, I have a degree in economics from Harvard. I took four years off before coming to law school to work in financial analysis. I knew that I specifically wanted to be on the east coast in terms of law school and to practice law. So when I was looking at schools, I looked in the Boston and New York area. And what drove me to BU was, it had a great reputation, a great ranking, and also I felt that the School portrayed itself as a school that cares about the student. And it kind of came out there when I was making decisions between schools that maybe didnít care as much about the person; it only cared about the objective factors. I thought BU had a good mix of objective and subjective factors in considering students.
Amy Martell: I did come to law school with a very particular purpose. I came to law school in the middle of my career. I was 32 when I started law school. And I had been a music therapist before I became a law student. It was a dramatic change for me, but I decided I wanted to pursue advocacy for the children with whom I was working from a broader context.† So I came to law school to practice family law and special ed advocacy. And itís been exciting to be exposed to the larger world of law, and then also continue to focus on this one area.
Katie Hluchyj: I came to law school because, when I was teaching, I had a lot of students who had problems that I didnít know how to address. And I came to law school to get the tools to help kids in a whole-person sort of way. And BU has definitely allowed me to do that, both through my Rappaport Fellowship last summer learning a little bit more about education law and policy. And especially in the Boston area, learning more about the juvenile court system through the Criminal Law Clinic. I feel like Iím gaining the tools to really do exactly what I came here for: to help kids once I go back to the classroom.
The Job Marketplace
Tokunbo Akinbajo: The Career Development Office is simply amazing. Jen Perrigo: sheís amazing. You can tell that she really cares about your development as a student, your future career and the career path that youíre going on. I think the Career Development Office does a great job in speaking to you and getting to know students early. And catering to your needs and your specific career paths.
Shawanna Johnson: Maura Kelly, in particular, is just great. Sheís very warm. Sheís had a lot of real-life experience. And, you know, I feel like theyíre very knowledgeable about how it actually is in the work force, as opposed to idealized models of maybe what a law firm is. Weíre talking to people who have lived it and worked it before and can give us some real, genuine advice.
Katie Hluchyj: The CDO, Career Development Office, has set me up with some wonderful opportunities: a mentor whoís a juvenile judge over in Cambridge. I had a chance to go observe in her courtroom and to talk with her about what she does. And itís very connected to my interest in childrenís law. The Career Development Office helped me to find the Rappaport Fellowship, which I did last summer. And that allowed me to do policy research on education law for students involved with the Department of Youth Services in Massachusetts. And itís an area thatís really interesting to me as a former teacher. And doing that really broadened my knowledge of law and also, I think, opened up some opportunities that Iíll use down the road.
Amy Martell: Iíve been able to connect both with new alumni and also some older alumni that have been wonderful in supporting me in developing my career goals and in helping me carefully select my career path choicesóboth my internship choices and clinical choices here, but also considering what is my next step when I get out of law school. I had great mentors here, 3L students when I was a 1L who are now out in the field, that have been wonderful in supporting me. And then I also was able to speak with a couple of quite senior practitioners in the field who were BU alums, who were always enthusiastic about meeting with young law students and helping them along.
Savan Vaghani: I wanted to go back to Chicago. Thatís where Iím from originally, and that was my goal. And that still is my goal. And I havenít had any trouble at Boston University trying to go back there. Because BUís alumni are not only concentrated in Boston, or the northeast, but theyíre spread across the entire nation. Definitely through the alumni network I have met quite a few people that have served as mentors. You know, the CDO matches you up actually with a mentor, depending on your interest and your career objectives early on during your first year. And they had matched me up with a patent litigator in the Boston area. And she was extremely helpful throughout this entire career searching process of what to look for in a firm: What criteria do I look at? What facts do I ignore that donít really matter? Sort of a sounding board to kind of go through the motions with.
Inside & Outside the Classroom
Stephen Ferrara: The 1L curriculum, in general, itís very balanced I think. Every class is a favorite of mine for a specific reason. For example, Civil Procedure, itís very practical. And I can find myself actually relating to that and saying, okay, Iím going to be doing that in 10 years. But, then you haveóyouíll have a Torts class where itís very theoretical, and you really see the arguments behind legal analysis.
Amy Martell: The curriculum here is very broad-based so you get your legal theory and your exposure to how to understand the law as a 1L. But, as you move into your upper-level classes, thereís a great balance offered of specialized topics, seminar topics that allow you to sort of think broadly about the law, think about whatís happening in the world, and how the things that youíre learning in school actually apply to the world. And then also clinical courses, which allow you to apply the law in direct context. And then additional upper-level theory courses that really think broadly about political theory and doctrine development.
Katie Hluchyj: Iíve had everything from small seminars, like the Juvenile Delinquency Seminar with Wendy Kaplan, which was a wonderful chance to discuss issues that Iím very interested in, and to do that in a very small setting. But also there are other classes that are large and, I mean, you have to really be ready to present your ideas and opinions in front of a lot of your peers, and in a very intense way. Because thereís a lot of interaction between the professors and the students.
Elizabeth Feeheery: I definitely feel well prepared to practice law. I know that itís a long road and thereís a lot for me to learn. But, having particularly those experiencesóworking over at the U.S. Attorneyís Office and interning with Judge YoungóI feel very prepared. I mean, I know how to research, I know how to write well. I feel like my analytical skills have improved throughout these three years. And I think that BU really does emphasize really great legal writing. I mean, all the first-year students take a pretty intensive legal research and writing class. And the focus is really to make sure that when you get out of here that you, no matter where youíre placed, you can do the work. And I found that to be very true. I felt really confident wherever Iíve been.
Shawanna Johnson: The writing skills that Iíve developed here with BUís writing program, I think, have just opened all sorts of doors, so that I can practice any kind of law I want. If I decide to go one way and then change mid-course, or go from litigation to corporate, I think Iím very well prepared.
Erikka Massie: I think that everybody here at BUís been very supportive of what I want to do, or any ideas of what Iíve had that I want to do. And I think that itís made me feel very comfortable going out into the workforce. I feel that there really isnít a mountain that I canít tackle. I will be able to find the job that I want. It might not be right away, but eventually I will get to where I want to be.
Tim Famulare: I am in the Legal Externship Program, and I have an internship with Judge Patti Saris at the U.S. District Court. Iíve only been there for about six weeks, but itís been an incredible experience so far. Seeing on a day-to-day basis what happens in the Federal Court system is remarkable, especially the exposure to the criminal side of it. Iíd had an internship with a State Court judge as well, which was much more civil procedure. But seeing also from the judgeís perspective how she manages her caseload is incredible. And the amount of independence that sheís given meóYou know, Iíve gotten basically a motion to suppress that I was able to run with, do all the research myself, draft it. Of course, keeping in touch with her and asking her how she would decide on certain issues. But really having free reign to sort of do all of the writing, all of the drafting myself. Working with her clerks have been great, as well. But I would say what makes this program unique is actually getting into the courtroom and being right there and seeing the decisions that a judge makes on a day-to-day basis. Itís been eye opening.
Elizabeth Feeheery: Iím interning with Judge Young, whoís a federal judge over in the District of Massachusetts. And Iím having the opportunity to do a lot of research, writing bench memos for him. And then also whenever he has a trial I get to sit right up next to the judge and listen to all the attorneys. And when they come up and ask him questions, he really encourages me to jump right in and listen in. So itís been a great opportunity, something that I think BU really encourages. Itís not just, you know, to focus on the classroom experience, but also to make sure that you have that balance, and see really what there is outside of the classroom.
Amy Martell: Iím doing an externship right now at an organization called Massachusetts Advocates for Children. Itís a special ed advocacy organization. They do both legislative advocacy and community organizing, and then direct representation of children in the community who are not necessarily getting the education services that they need. So Iím writing bills, and Iím going up to the Hill and having meetings with various different departments, and working with my supervisor on other different legislative initiatives.† And then Iím representing a couple of clients in IEP meetings, in Individual Education Plan meetings. So working with their schools to ensure that they are getting the services that they need. Now that Iíve done an externship and that Iíve completed another clinic program that Iím doing the coursework, I definitely feel like Iím thinking like a lawyer. Like Iím ready to go out in the field and practice. I mean, thereís still worlds and worlds to learn. I expect to continue to be mentored; I expect to continue to go out and learn. But I feel at this point, more than I did even eight months ago when I was a 2L, that I really feel ready to go out and practice.
Tokunbo Akinbajo: Iím a JD/MS dual degree student in Mass Communications. At the end of my first year, I became aware of the dual degree programs here at BU. And in studying the dual degrees, it was brought to my attention you can earn a Masters in the same amount of time as in completing your law degree. So two degrees for the price of one. The professors at the College of Communication, they are also world-renowned professors there. And the quality of education that Iím getting there is second to none as far as communications is concerned. Iím building my network, so friends and future clients, at the College of Communication. And, hopefully, thatíll serve me well in my practice in Labor and Employment Law.
Deitzah Woll: BU offers a wide variety of Study Abroad Programs, probably more than any other law school in the United States. It offers programs in many different countries and also in different languages. I chose to study at the University of Hong Kong. The University of Hong Kong has an excellent human rights program. I have a background in public interest work, and I really wanted to get more in-depth knowledge on international human rights law. Additionally the atmosphere of Hong Kong was also a driving force to bringing me to the University of Hong Kong. I would definitely recommend the Study Abroad Program. If you are interested at all in international law, I would recommend studying abroad in one of our programs. I got to meet a huge number of international students who were also studying there. I made friendships for life. It was a great experience overall.
Erikka Massie: Iíve been involved in the student government all three years here at BU Law. This year Iím co-chair of the Student Government. And I think that thatís been most rewarding, because Iím in a role where Iím in a position to help incoming students, and also the students that are here with issues that they have, and making sure that people feel at home here. And I think thatís a lot of what the student government does. And I think that really has been the most rewarding thing. Thatís what I will take away from BU.
Savan Vaghani: Well, the student organizations and the number of groups, theyíre limitless. You could participate in something like the South Asian Law Student Association, or the Latin American Law Student Association, or the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association. Associations are really linked to diversity. You could also participate in things such as the Intellectual Property Law Society, Earth Rights, Public Interest. You know, any of your professional interests, any of your personal interests, youíll find a group to match you. I mean, even all the way to something called Coffee House, where you have various performers get together once a month and host just an hour of entertainment and open mic. When I came here I was really surprised, and very thrilled in fact, to find that the Dean of Students would come and approach me, ask me about a certain cultural event that I was thinking about hosting at the law school. The South Asian Law Student Association, we hosted a Diwali and Eid celebration this past fall. Itís a cultural celebration in the South Asian community. It was on a Wednesday evening, and we had the Dean of Students there; we had various faculty members there, including Iíd say about a hundred students that appeared at this event. And I think that illustrates the amount of involvement of the faculty, staff, administrators and the student body.
Elizabeth Feeheery: Iím a member of the Law Review. And itís like all the journals here: all the journals here are entirely student-run, which means that students are picking articles for the journals. Theyíre working with the authors. Theyíre doing the editing. Theyíre working with the publishers to make sure that those books come out. And I think itís such a rare thing for a school to have so much confidence in its students that they really give them all that responsibility.† I know one example is that we just published for the Law Review a Symposium Edition about judging in the 21st century. And what we had was a whole host of unbelievable judges and incredible legal scholars who came to BU for a series of days and talked about judging and issues relating to judging. And all of those people then submitted articles to the Law Review. And I think one of the great things about BU isóAnd these were unbelievable legal scholars, some of the most well known judges in the countryóand it was all second- and third-year students that were dealing with them. We were the ones emailing back and forth asking them, ďYou know, I think maybe we should edit this part of your article, or add this.Ē And we were the ones on the telephone with them. We were the ones making the final edits. And the book came out fantastic. And the nice thing was we never had any sort of, no one from the administration ever came in saying, ďGee, Iím not really sure that youíre equipped to handle this. Maybe we should take over.Ē They really did feel that we could do it on our own. And we did. And I think we published a great book.
Ryann Muir: Iím on the Science and Technology Law Journal. Itís a great way to meet other students that are also interested in that area of law. And youíre working with, the people that are submitting the articles to the Journal are either other attorneys that are working in that field, so itís a great way to network. Or, other professors where youíre reading their articles and youíre really learning about the cutting edge of that field. Because this is whatís just being published, so you get to hear about it before itís even out there. I found that being on a journal was one of the best extracurricular activities that Iíd done in law school.
At Home in the City
Tokunbo Akinbajo: My most rewarding experience has been mentoring younger students. As a second-year, and as a third-year, you meet a lot of first-years who are anxious about law school, really donít know what to expect. And I think itís your responsibility as an upper-class student to kind of ease those concerns. Because when I came in as a first-year, a lot of upperclassmen just kind of spoke to me and guided me in the right direction and eased my concerns about the law school experience.
Amy Martell: I found other parents. Iím a mom. I have a 19-month-old daughter. And I found wonderful support among the community here for being a parent. The dean particularly, Dean Marx loves my daughter. And so she has an open-door policy: I bring my daughter in every time, and she has a couple of figurines. My daughter always loves to go in and hang out in the deanís office. And I canít think of another school where you can bring your child into the deanís office and sit and hang out, and sheís excited to do that. Itís been a great place, and I look forward to coming back here over the years and continuing the relationships Iíve developed.
Erikka Massie: I guess the best way to describe my classmates is just very caring and concerned. Everybody here wants to do well, but they donít let that get in the way of building friendships and having kind of a family feeling. I think that I have that with especially my section-mates for my first year. And itís great to have that family feeling there with people that are going through the same thing youíre going through. I guess thatís the biggest thing; thereís just that camaraderie among my classmates. And even now in the second- and third-year classes, I find that we all want to do well, but thereís not that competitive edge. I mean, people are fun-loving, and everybody wants to do well but have a good time at the same time.
Tokunbo Akinbajo: I think in preparing for practice, balancing your time between extra-curriculars and your studies is imperative. And I think BU is a fertile ground to learn that balance as far as excelling in the classroom and excelling in the community. The Student Appreciation Day, just seeing the excitement within the School, getting free doughnuts and free coffee in the morning. You donít see that every day. And when I talk to my colleagues at other schools, and I tell them that we do have a Student Appreciation Day, Iím sure theyíre envious in that regard.† And, you know, the yoga opportunities that students have - just that the option is there to take yoga for free and to have that opportunity. And the little e-mails that we get from Dean Marx, you know: ďHave a safe day,Ē or ďHave a good weekend.Ē I think thatís all conducive in promoting a collegial environment and a friendly environment here at BU.
Shawanna Johnson: Last year I was a member of the Black Law Students Association. That is by far the organization that really, really defines BU for me. This year I am president, and I am having a blast as president. We do many things to help the Admissions Office and the Student Affairs Office increase diversity here, and just make this an enjoyable place for students of color. I would say that this is a good place for students of color to come and study. Because, one, the administration and the faculty care about diversity in the classroom. You donít find that at every school, especially not a top 20 school. And also I think thereís a lot of opportunity in Boston for students of color. Many law firms, many mentors, many young attorneys here are really forging a good community feel. So that when youíre out of law school and youíre working in your job, and in your law firm, thereís a support system there. And I interact with attorneys all over Boston, and we do various community activities. So that students of color, if they want to come here, they see that itís a welcoming environment and that there are opportunities.
Erikka Massie: I think that BU definitely makes an effort to try to increase the diversity here and to make sure that thereís someone or something here thatís going to make somebody feel at home. Because thereís a lot of people that are coming from far away and different backgrounds. And they definitely make an effort to make sure that people feel comfortable here.
Tim Famulare: I just love the place. I think whatís great about the location here is that not only are you close to the State Capital where we have access to the Courts and the Legislature and the Federal Court, but itís also a very exciting city. Thereís a lot to do, itís beautiful, and the view from the tower is really incredible. Itís something Iíll miss the most next year. But itís a very exciting city, very vibrant. BU is in a very young area where there are a lot of students, but itís also not far to get downtown as well and see a lot of the attractions there: great restaurants, great bars, great museums. I think itís a great place to come. Iíve been a fan of Boston for years, and Iím a big booster for it, so I think itís a great place to spend three years. If youíre coming from out of town, itís a very exciting city.
Shawanna Johnson: I think what I like most about being in Boston is that itís a great education town. I have friends from all over the place who are at different schools, doing different things, studying different subjects. And I like the fact that we can all come together in a great intellectual environment. And specifically about BU I like the fact that itís a welcoming school. Itís a pretty warm school in terms of faculty, in terms of the administration, in terms of the students and the student organizations and leaders and such. I feel like itís a great place if youíre going to spend three hard years, and youíre going to devote a tremendous amount of resources and time. It has to be a place where you feel at home. And I definitely feel at home here.
BU Law Faculty
Tokunbo Akinbajo: I canít say enough about the faculty here at BU. They are some of the brightest legal minds in their respective fields. And just being able to learn how to think like a lawyer from such a world-class faculty has been truly an honor and Iím sure is going to help me develop as a lawyer and an advocate for my clients.
Amy Martell: The faculty here are outstanding scholars. They are outstanding thinkers. They are thinking both about their issue, their narrow issue of legal theory that theyíve been working on, and theyíre collaborating with each other. Our faculty get together weekly for joint sessions where they review papers together. But what really makes them unique is the fact that theyíre committed to teaching. And the fact that they work with each other to improve their teaching and to understand better how to actually communicate law, and how to invite law students to understand the law, and not just leave law students to flounder around and understand it on their own. Itís a unique environment.† Itís not one Iíve heard of in other schools.
Katie Hluchyj: Faculty here have been real mentors. Fran Miller, one of the health law professors, has been fantastic. She really teaches you how to read the paper intelligently and how to look at current issues from a legal perspective. And sheís so excited about what she does and about finding the legal issues in all sorts of advertisements and areas of daily life. It makes me look at the world in a different way after taking her class.
Wolf Mueller-Hillebrand: Iím an attorney from Germany, from Berlin, and Iíve been practicing there for the last five years. I saw that my practice involved more and more international law topics, international companies coming to Germany wanting to expand there. And I thought that getting a background in international law, more knowledge of international lawóparticularly American lawówould be very beneficial to everything I would still like to do in the future. Comparing it to other universities that Iíve heard about, I think really whatís special about this is that itís very personal. And especially the Office of Foreign Programs, which is responsible for the LLMs. Iíd applied to different universities, and Boston University, particularly John Riccardi, was the only one who got back to me who actually made a personal interview part of the application process. It was also this feeling of being very, very personal which I think makes BU very, very special, which is also one of the main reasons I came here.
Wolf Mueller-Hillebrand: The major difference Iíve seen here is that Boston University, or universities here, are more involved with society. In Germany, university tends to be a veryóI donít know, like a closed, sort of itís own little universe. And thereís almost no interaction with the outside world. You go there, you study, you go back home and study some more. And then you go out and look for a job. And here I just have more of a feeling that the University is actually interacting. Itís more preparing you for the outside world. It has contacts with employers. It has pro bono work that you can do if youíre so inclined. You can really do something for society and interact, which is not something you do in Germany as much. The behavior of students in Germany and students here is different. Here, with the Socratic Method, youíre much more encouraged to participate in class. And itís sort of fun to see. In Germany, itís very rare that a professor calls on somebody. And then usually students try to duck away or get out of it. And here students actually seem to enjoy participating and talking to the professor and sort of sharing ideas with him, which I think is a great experience.
Wolf Mueller-Hillebrand: Iím pursuing a Master of Law Degree. Itís in American law. So it gives you an overview. Thereís this one course called Introduction to American Law, which every LL.M. student has to take, and which sort of focuses on the whole of American law. So that you get an overview. And then within that overview you can specialize. You can take Intellectual Property or International Business Agreements or Business Practice, which is what Iím doing. Youíre free to pick from all the subjects, all the lectures that are open to J.D. students.
Adriana Rojas: Itís a wonderful program. The students, the class sizeóthe group size is about 60 to 70 students, so itís not too big. And the Morin Center is wonderful. They know everybodyís background. They have a personal relationship I think with all the students. And itís an open-door policy. Any problem you have, from, ďWhere do I rent a couch?Ē to ďI really want to find an internship, can you help me?Ē You can come to the Morin Center whenever, and theyíre always here to help you.
Anabella Vegas: Iím in the Banking and Financial Law Program. Itís a one-year LL.M. course. It starts in September and ends in May. And basically our courses are focused in banking, law and financial law. This is a specific LL.M. Itís focused in the banking financial law, and I was really interested in those courses. And additionally, itís located in Boston. Itís a very, very nice city. Itís full of students and people just doing the same things that you are doing, so you get a lot of people to know here.
Adriana Rojas: The professors are great. At some universities, most of the professors only work in academia. The program really does a good job at trying to get professors that are actually practicing lawyers in different cities. If you read the professorsí biographies, theyíre amazing. Executive VPs of banks, managing partners of firmsóbig name firms.
Adriana Rojas: In addition to having class work and class time, thereís also an internship program that second-semester students are able to take part in. And basically, you do an internship either at a law firm or in a bank, I believe for 15, 20 hours a week. And itís a great experience to actually put into practice what youíre learning in the classroom.
Adriana Rojas: You get to meet so many different people from so many different countries. And because itís such a small class and you do spend so much time in school and outside of school with them, you form such great friendships. And, at this point, youíre friends forever. So itís a wonderful, wonderful experience that you wouldnít get otherwise.
Brenda Yamaji: Iím in the Graduate Tax Program. Itís a Masters in Law with an emphasis of taxation. And I actually chose Boston for several reasons. Boston is higher ranked for the LL.M. program in Tax. And itís interesting to see the diversity and backgrounds of the degrees that people have gotten, the experiences that theyíve gotten, and then the places that they come from. Some of them have actually been practicing law for a couple of years. And then thereís quite a few of us that came straight from law school. You really get to know people, and people are willing to help you. I do believe that the Grad Tax Program has prepared me for the job market. And I would like to get a job working for one of the Big Four accounting firms.
Deitzah Woll: I definitely made the right choice in coming here. I think just in terms of the city of Boston, the School, the sense of community that the School has. And in terms of getting jobs after you graduate.
Tokunbo Akinbajo: I canít say enough about the faculty here at BU. They are some of the brightest legal minds in their respective fields. The professors that I have, they did a good job of introducing me to the law, introducing me how to think like a lawyer.
Amy Martell: The faculty here are outstanding scholars, but what really makes them unique is the fact that theyíre committed to teaching.
Wolf Mueller-Hillebrand: Theyíre not just interested in answering questions, but also in me as a German, as an LL.M. student. I noticed that theyíre also interested in me. Like I will come to a professor and he will ask me about my background and ask me about German law, and ask me to compare maybe some German cases to cases we talked about in class. And thatís something I think is really special.
Amy Martell: One professor here is extremely well known for bringing music into his classroom. This is one of our Contracts professors, Professor Pettit. And he is known for illuminating case law by setting particular cases to music. So heíll come into class sometimes with his rapper glasses on and his Fisher Price boom box and will rap to you the story of the case.
Katie Hluchyj: I have enjoyed every class that Iíve taken, but especially Professor Maclinís Constitutional Law and Criminal Procedure classes, because youíre on your toes from the minute you walk in there until the minute you leave. And it makes you want to do the work because he has such high expectations of the students.
Stephen Ferrara: There are moments where there are intense discussions and heavy debate. But there are also times when you find the entire class laughing about something. You have the humorous, the academic debate, and usually somewhere in the middle where youíre learning, but youíre also enjoying it at the same time.
Tokunbo Akinbajo: My first year, a lot of students were very supportive of one another, and we were each otherís cheerleaders. You hear a lot of times how competitive law school is, but here at BU thereís not that air of competition. Weíre really supportive of one another, and I think thatís a tribute to the environment that the faculty and staff promote.
Anabella Vegas: We also had a potluck night, where everybody brought some typical food from their country. So we got to get involved. And they really do focus on getting us to know each other.
Shawanna Johnson: I feel like thatís the number one thing that has really gotten me through law school: the relationships Iíve built with my friends and faculty. BU does a really good job of bringing together bright and intelligent people who are from very diverse backgrounds. And that was very important to me.
P. Danielle Nellis: We all know that we are expected to do well, and youíre expected to give forth your best effort. But you have people who are here to support you, as well.
Katie Hluchyj: You definitely want to take advantage of both professors and the Career Development Office, because they are so willing to listen, to really help you tailor your ideas, to point you in the direction of scholarships and fellowships, and ways to use law in creative ways.
Amy Martell: If I had one person in the school that has been the greatest inspiration for me, it would be Maura Kelly in the CDO. Everybody refers to her as a walking rolodex. You can go in and speak with her about your interests and she kind of goes through her brain and says, ďYou need to talk to this person and this person and this person.Ē And what she encourages students to do is to make connections.
Erikka Massie: The law firms work very closely with the school. They want to hire people from BU. When we have panels and discussions, there are people at firms that are always willing to come and talk. So you build this network of people that you know outside of the law school.
Tim Famulare: Whatís great about the location here is that not only are you close to the State Capital where we have access to the Courts and the Legislature and the Federal Court, but itís also a very exciting city.
Elizabeth Feeheery: I think BU has an excellent reputation, both in Boston and nationally. I know friends who are working all over the country, and really all over the world. And my experience wasóBU has such a fantastic reputationówhen I was interviewing I really had a lot of respect from the interviewers. I feel very prepared. I mean, I know how to research, I know how to write well. I feel like my analytical skills have improved throughout these three years.
Amy Martell: This was absolutely the right choice. Iíve had a phenomenal experience at BU. I feel that I am absolutely well situated to go out and practice and to be a practitioner that can make a difference in the world. I feel that I have a community on which I can rely and a place that I can come back to that will continue to help me move forward.