Boston University School of Law

clinic students walking bu law

In This Issue


From Director Lois Knight

lois knightClinical and experiential learning at Boston University School of Law has come a long way since our first clinical program in 1965. Today — as we approach the 50th anniversary of our clinics — we are proud of the variety of exciting opportunities for students to get real legal experience. In this newsletter you can read about some recent challenging work that students have been doing under the close supervision of faculty members.

Students are taking on modern day slavery in the Human Trafficking Clinic; they are fighting for children’s rights in Haiti; they are defending or prosecuting juveniles and adults in criminal matters. In the civil litigation clinics, students are representing clients fighting for employment rights, seeking to maintain their housing, or escaping from abusive marriages.

Students are also getting experience in a wide variety of practice settings through our many externship programs. This semester, 55 students are working as externs in the courts, in federal and state government, for public interest organizations, and in-house for companies. Ten students are spending the entire semester in practice in Washington, DC, as well as other areas of the country and abroad.

Finally, our students have been recognized for the excellent training they have received in the clinics and externships through various awards and by employers who value the strength of the practical training we offer. This newsletter gives just a small sample of our outstanding programs, faculty, and students. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Lois Knight
Director of Clinical & Advocacy Programs

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Experiential Learning @ BU Law

Boston University School of Law continues to build on the breadth of experiential learning opportunities, as employers increasingly seek new attorneys with real-world legal experience on their resumes. BU Law students handle actual cases and legal work under the guidance of our expert faculty and on-site mentors through a dozen clinics, seven varied externship opportunities, legislative programs, and limitless semester-in-practice placements around the globe. With such a range of topics available, students are able to attain specialized experience in their various fields of interest so that they are better prepared for practice from the moment they graduate from BU Law.

Last spring, 72% of the graduating class completed at least one clinic, externship or semester-in-practice during their time at BU Law. This fall a total of 128 students are participating in these opportunities. When speaking with alumni, it is the cases, clients and mentorship of the clinical programs that proved the most formative and impactful on their future careers.


  • Africa i-Parliments
  • American Legislative Practice
  • Criminal Law: Prosecutor
  • Criminal Law: Defender (Adult)
  • Criminal Law Defender (Juvenile)
  • Employment Rights
  • Housing, Employment, Family & Disability
  • Human Trafficking
  • Immigrants' Rights
  • International Human Rights
  • Wrongful Convictions


  • Affordable Housing
  • American Legislative Practice
  • Community Courts
  • Government Lawyering (state or federal)
  • Health Law
  • Independent Proposal
  • Judicial (trial or appellate court in the Mass. or federal system)
  • Legal (at a nonprofit, government, firm or in-house counsel office)


  • Government Lawyering (in Washington, DC)
  • Human Rights (Geneva, Switzerland)
  • Death Penalty (Atlanta, GA)
  • Independent Proposal

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Featured Clinics

Taking on Modern-Day Slavery: BU Law's Human Trafficking Clinic

The second largest and fastest growing black market in the world, human trafficking victimizes approximately 27 million people — women, men, girls and boys — annually. And the $32 billion industry isn’t confined to foreign nations: The last few years have revealed the scale of the problem within Massachusetts’ borders.

As legislative attention turns to addressing the complex issues on a policy level, the substantial need for legal and support services for victims has become apparent. Boston University School of Law’s new Human Trafficking Clinic, just the second such program in the country, offers second- and third-year students the opportunity to provide legal representation for survivors of sex and labor trafficking, as well as the chance to study, critique and even shape political frameworks for amelioration.

“We provide legal representation and also work on issues related to advocacy and law reform,” says Julie Dahlstrom, director of the BU Law clinic and managing attorney at Lutheran Social Services (LSS), a leading organization in the local fight against trafficking.

Dahlstrom’s passion for assisting trafficking survivors stems from an experience early in her legal career when, working as an immigration attorney, her organization’s English ESOL program referred a woman who was overtly malnourished and had no access to her documents. After their initial meeting, it was clear human trafficking was at play.

“We didn't see these cases very often,” Dahlstrom says. “The thought was that, one, human trafficking wasn't an issue, and two, if it was, there were resources, plenty of legal resources out there to help people.” But as she worked to help the woman start a new life, Dahlstrom recognized a sobering void of available services and protections for human trafficking victims.

“It was from that first case, understanding the lack of services available, that we established the Human Trafficking Legal Assistance Center at LSS in 2008, and then recently established the BU Law clinic to broaden the legal services available to this population,” says Dahlstrom.

The problem hits home with several of the clinic students, like Michelle McGrath (’13), who elected to take the clinic because of her firsthand experience with potential victims: “I was a public school teacher for six years, and I worked in largely immigrant communities, so I see domestic human trafficking as something that really any of my students could have been involved in.”

Following in Attorney General Coakley's footsteps

bu law martha coakley
Clinic students visit the Attorney General's Office

In bringing the clinic to fruition, LSS received indispensable support from BU Law alumna and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (’79), who was simultaneously working to overhaul the state’s mentality about human trafficking — namely, that it existed.

“We just didn’t see it,” explained Coakley to clinic students in an October class. As the attorney general’s eyes were opened to the severity of the problem and how the state lagged in effectively addressing it, she vigorously began work toward reform.

Coakley became chair of the newly established Massachusetts Anti-Trafficking Task Force, which led the Commonwealth to pass a new human trafficking statute, effective February 2012. Supplementing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 — which allows for a special visa (called a T-visa) for victims, but has cumbersome and complex requirements — the new legislation explicitly outlines clear criminal penalties for traffickers and provides new legal protections, including a safe harbor provision, for survivors. “We do not charge those who have been victimized,” Coakley told students.

“What’s exciting about the clinic is that it’s happening at the same time that new legislation is being passed in Massachusetts, so you get to see the law in action, and you get to be a part of that process,” says clinic student Nam-Giao Do (’14).

Also appealing to law students is the sheer complexity and intellectual challenge of each case.

“I find that a lot of the women that we deal with … have been prosecuted for prostitution, which is what they’ve been trafficked for, so there’s sort of an interesting conflict of the law,” says McGrath. “It’s not always clear that one person is the victim, one person is the persecutor, and one person is the perpetrator. So one thing that we learned in the clinic is that you have to look at things through a lot of different lenses.”

Dahlstrom, who is also a member of the attorney general’s task force, guides the students through each point of view and the difficult questions that arise. “Why do we distinguish between prostitution and trafficking? Where are those lines? What’s the utility of those lines? Is a victim of trafficking somehow more deserving than someone who’s involved with prostitution? We really grapple with those issues in the clinic. … And what I hope students come out of it with is a wider understanding of the complexity at play here.”

martha coakley
Attorney General Coakley talks to students

It’s a complexity that the attorney general understands, as she told clinic students, from her experience with the sensitive and complex nature of child abuse cases, which have provided a model for addressing instances of trafficking. Coakley informed the BU Law clinic that her office involves multidisciplinary forces — including law enforcement, psychologists, doctors and, now, law students — to work through each unique case together.

“This is a brave new world for us,” Coakley remarked. “I am really proud that BU has undertaken this.”

“The Attorney General’s Office has really understood the nature of these cases, that without support for survivors they really aren’t in a position to be able to cooperate throughout an investigation,” says Dahlstom. “And then it’s important and integral to have victim service providers, legal services, involved at the early stages in terms of developing trust and support for survivors throughout the process.”

Tackling trafficking beyond the courtroom

The clinic’s structure reinforces this multi-pronged approach. For one, the students work out of the Family Justice Center, a comprehensive model that “pairs law enforcement upstairs with social and legal services providers in the same building,” describes Dahlstrom. The clinic also shares space and works hand-in-hand with Kim’s Project, a survivor-led initiative offering support services for those who have been working in the sex trade.

“We’re at the very beginning really of developing theoretical models for how to provide those services effectively, both legal services and all the other pieces,” Dahlstrom notes. “We’re really hoping that the students can get involved in developing those models.”

Each clinic student also must develop a project beyond client contact work to impact Massachusetts’ fight against trafficking. For example, Nam-Giao Do and fellow student Tina Borysthen-Tkacz worked with WilmerHale and the AG’s Office to develop a human trafficking manual for Massachusetts attorneys.

bu law at carmen ortiz
Clinic students with U.S. attorney Carmen Ortiz

“It’s another way for me to build my legal research and writing skills, as well as see how this manual can assist lawyers in stepping up in a role assisting trafficked victims,” says Do.

Other projects include training probation officers and providing feedback to the Attorney General’s Office on an amicus brief in ACLU vs. Sebelius, a First Circuit case addressing whether faith-based organizations that receive federal funding can restrict trafficking victims’ access to family planning services.

Dahlstrom notes that her students “really have had the chance to be involved in a formative stage of developing [anti-trafficking] models in Massachusetts.”

At the close of the clinic’s first semester, students had already won several small victories for their clients, and four students will continue volunteering through the spring.

“I tell the students really it takes time, it takes a connection, establishing a real connection, and there’s no substitute for time,” says Dahlstrom. “Slowly we’re identifying more clients in need of services and hopefully providing those services to people, and I think with that built momentum in terms of learning about the legislation and what it means.”



Tackling Human Trafficking from Another Angle: The American Legislative Practice Clinic

michael ayzenWhen Mike Ayzen ('11) began the American Legislative Practice Program, he thought he could help get an anti-human trafficking bill out of committee. Little did he realize that he would do that and much more.

Ayzen identified an additional horrific dimension to the practice of human trafficking. His contribution became part of Massachusetts law when Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill a few months after Ayzen’s graduation.

Beginning his work by conferring with the staff of Senator Mark Montigny, the author of the legislation, Ayzen realized that the language about sentencing provisions needed to be more specific. He analyzed the bill, comparing it with similar legislation in California and New York, and called attention to new issues. In this process, Ayzen realized that the bill covered human trafficking only for the purposes of prostitution and labor — but not for selling organs or body parts. This addition was his unique contribution to the bill, and to the eventual law. By the time of the signing, BU Law student Tashena Nobrega ('13) was interning for Senator Montigny and helped the conference committee hammer out the final language.

Since graduation, Ayzen has been a staff attorney for the public defender in Springfield. He says that his Legislative Program work has helped him better understand and work with new legislation that affects his clients.

“When I was doing the research for my report on the anti-human trafficking bill, I grasped the true importance of the legislation — its effect on real people’s lives," Ayzen says. "I’m glad I could make a difference in the final law, which I hope will deter this crime in the future.”



Strengthening the Fight for International Human Rights: BU Law's Asylum Clinic Expands

This recent video documenting student clinical work fighting against the practice of Restavek in Haiti demonstrates the in-depth experience students can get from these clinics.

Students seeking experience advocating for international human rights now have two options: the Immigrants' Rights Clinic (IRC) and the International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC).

The former Asylum & Human Rights Clinic has been divided into these distinct opportunities to accomodate student interest in honing specific practical skills. To enhance litigation expertise, participants in the IRC will represent real clients in front of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration Court, and other asylum-related legal bodies. Students in the IHRC will focus on policy work through a number of projects, including representing international NGO’s in advocacy in the UN Human Rights Council, filing amicus briefs in U.S. domestic courts, and participating in universal jurisdiction claims in the U.S. and other courts.

Professor Susan Akram will lead both efforts under the umbrella of the Human Rights Program at BU Law.


Building a Career in Community Development

New Affordable Housing Externship helps students gain real-world skills and experience

housing plansThe new Affordable Housing Externship Program, which began in fall 2012, offers students interested in the field of affordable housing and community development the hands-on experience of an externship paired with a seminar led by a real-life practitioner.

Program head Peter Freeman practices in the areas of land use and development and affordable housing as a partner at the Freeman Law Group LLC. Teaching at BU Law since 1978, he has offered seminars in Historic Preservation Law and Affordable Housing in the past, but sees the newly launched externship as the next step in helping law students acquire the real-world skills and experience they need to launch a successful career.

“Some fields are more strictly legal, but with the nature of developing real estate, whether housing or otherwise, you don't get started without engineers, architects and planners and working with government,” says Freeman.

Freeman also notes that since Massachusetts has a particular statute promoting affordable housing, Boston offers the ideal landscape to practice and learn the field.

Through his professional contacts, Freeman helped arrange placements in the Department of Housing and Community Development and the MassHousing Finance Agency last fall. Future students can look forward to gaining experience with various organizations from non-profits to law firms to government housing agencies.

To supplement the externship, students complete a seminar, which covers zoning laws, planning tools, government programs, financing, tax incentives, growth policies and community organizations.

“They are learning things about budgets, money, federal dollars and subsidies at a time when it is the main focus of the entire nation, for better or for worse,” says Freeman. “If a student has any interest in public policy, it's one thing to read and talk about it. It’s another to be right in the real world where it happens.”

As for the intellectual and professional satisfaction of the field itself, Freeman emphasizes the rewards of working with a variety of people and building an actual product that fulfills a community need.

“Ultimately the result of all of our legal effort, in conjunction with others, is a tangible product,” says Freeman. “And whether it’s a shopping center or affordable housing, there’s something concrete, a synthesis of things that makes people happy.”

Past and current students speak on their Affordable Housing Externships

Katelyn Homeyer grabs an inside look

katelyn homeyerKatelyn Homeyer (’13) has been interested in land use law and natural resource planning since her time as an undergraduate. She worked in land conservation for a few years before law school. So when she came to BU Law, she knew she wanted to take Peter Freeman’s Affordable Housing and Community Development seminar. But when Freeman shared information on the brand new externship, she immediately saw the value of the opportunity.

“I wanted the in-practice experience rather than just reading and discussing the issues,” says Homeyer. “Actually seeing the inside of an organization, the ways that they address affordable housing shortages and use the laws, particularly in Massachusetts, to increase affordable housing supply—it was pretty easy to express my interest in my application.”

Because of her particular interest in municipal work and how local government plays a role in housing, Freeman helped place Homeyer with the Department of Housing and Community Development. There she performed legal research, wrote briefs, met with staff, and created an in-agency manual on how to review proposed legislation.

“It was really fascinating to be within an agency, learning how they work with law and policy and the unique interaction between the legal counsel and their inter-agency court,” says Homeyer. “Watching an agency from within for the first time for me was really fascinating.”

Following graduation, Homeyer continues to rely on the knowledge she gained during her externship — she is clerking for the Vermont Superior Court's Environmental Division, which hears appeals from municipal and state land use, zoning and environmental permit decisions.

Brittany Copper blurs line between class and clinic

brittany copperDuring her externship at MassHousing Finance Agency, Brittany Copper (’14) gained pragmatic skills looking over regulatory agreements, case law and applications for new developments as well as researching for an amicus brief.

“It was interesting to learn what people who actually work in affordable housing think the issues are,” says Copper. “They recognize the current failures in the system, but they are constantly thinking about how to change and fix them.”

Taking the seminar and learning more about the issues at hand while working really helped Copper internalize and understand them. She notes how Freeman was able to tie in topics they were learning in class to the projects that she was completing at her externship.

“It was really great working because you picked it up a lot faster than you would if you were just taking a class,” says Copper. “It really amplified the classroom experience.”


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Faculty Spotlights

Naomi Mann Joins BU Law as Clinical Associate Professor

naomi mannNaomi Mann  

Naomi Mann has joined BU Law as a clinical associate professor in the Civil Litigation Program, where she will teach and supervise students in the Employment Rights and Housing, Employment, Family Law, and Disability Clinics.

Before coming to BU Law, Mann was a visiting assistant professor at Boston College Law School, where she taught and supervised students in the civil litigation clinic working on housing, family law and social security matters. From 2003 to 2010, she worked as a staff attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services and Washington Empowered Against Violence, representing low-income domestic violence and sexual assault victims in family law and restraining order cases. From 2010 to 2012, she worked as a civil rights attorney in the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

Mann's areas of interest are in domestic violence, sexual assault and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. She is a committee member and family law faculty of the Know Your Rights! Program, which educates leaders of local nonprofits working with low-income women about legal issues, and a committee member of the Access to Justice Fellowship Program, which partners senior lawyers with nonprofit and legal service organizations to provide legal assistance to underserved populations.

Mann received her B.A., cum laude, in Social Anthropology from Harvard University and her J.D., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center, where she was an editor of the Georgetown Law Journal and a member of the Order of the Coif. She is admitted to the Maryland and Massachusetts state bars.


Meet the Visiting Assistant Professors and Clinical Teaching Fellows

Jeffrey CohenJeffrey M. Cohen  

In addition to teaching a course on white collar crime, Jeffrey M. Cohen is a visiting assistant professor in the Criminal Law Clinic.

“The clinic is an amazing opportunity for students to stand up in a real courtroom and affect real litigants’ lives,” he says. “As a teacher, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing your students succeed in the courtroom.”

Cohen began his career as a law clerk at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1999, and at the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. He has since served at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston in both the Civil and Criminal divisions. His experience ranges from prosecuting corruption and government fraud cases to litigating affirmative fraud cases against large corporations.

Cohen received his B.A. in Anthropology, summa cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.S. in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford. He graduated in 1999 from Stanford Law School, where he was associate editor of the Stanford Law Review, a teaching assistant for Federal Trial Practice, and recipient of the Matteson Award for outstanding performance in Kirkwood Moot Court Competition.

hemanth gundavaramHemanth C. Gundavaram ('04)

Hemanth C. Gundavaram (’04) is a clinical teaching fellow in the Civil Litigation Program and Immigrants' Rights Clinic.

He says of the clinic, “Teaching in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic combines every aspect of law that I truly love: teaching students in the classroom, guiding them through the ins and outs of courtrooms, and fighting on behalf of the indigent and disadvantaged.”

Gundavaram began his legal career as an associate in the Litigation department at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo, P.C. where he represented clients in a wide range of civil and criminal disputes. He also managed the firm's Hurricane Katrina foreclosure prevention pro bono work and served as a first-year associate mentor, summer associate mentor, and legal writing mentor. From 2009 to 2013, he was a staff attorney at the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. His work covered substantive and procedural areas of law, including direct criminal appeals, civil rights actions, and immigration appeals.

Gundavaram has also been serving as a lecturer at the law school since 2006. He spent five years teaching in the First-Year Writing program. He then created and taught two new seminars (Writing for Civil Litigation and Judicial Writing) for upper-class students in the 2011-2013 academic years.

Gundavaram received his B.S. in Journalism from Boston University College of Communication and his J.D. from the School of Law with a concentration, with honors, in Litigation and Dispute Resolution.


sherley rodriguezSherley Rodriguez ('03)


Sherley Rodriguez (’03), née Cruz, is a visiting assistant professor in the Employment Rights Clinic, to which she brings a decade of experience advocating for workers' rights.

Rodriguez began her legal career at Merrimack Valley Legal Services in 2004 as a Food Stamp Advocate Fellow. She has since dedicated her career to public interest law by serving at Massachusetts Advocates for Children, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office in the Fair Labor Division, and at Greater Boston Legal Services – formerly in the Employment Unit and currently the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic. Her work with GBLS has included representing low-wage and immigrant workers with unemployment, wage and hour, and working condition issues and providing counsel to community-based organizations and coalitions.

“It is such a rewarding feeling to watch a student represent a client at an unemployment hearing or negotiate a settlement for double or triple the amount of wages that the worker is owed,” Rodriguez says. “Students in the clinic gain not only valuable practical experience, but also a meaningful sense of the rewards of practicing public interest law.”

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Rodriguez received her B.A. in International Relations from Boston University and her J.D., cum laude, from Boston University School of Law in 2003.


sarah sherman-stokesSarah R. Sherman-Stokes


Sarah R. Sherman-Stokes is a clinical teaching fellow in the Civil Litigation Program and Immigrants’ Rights Clinic.

“Working with students has been really refreshing, as I get to see the courtroom through their eyes,” she says. “The way they engage with the material and their passion for it is really inspiring.”

Sherman-Stokes brings her experience as an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project, where she represented non-citizens with a special focus on the representation of detained, mentally ill refugees. Previously she worked at Boston Immigration Court and for the Committee for Public Counsel Services.

Sherman-Stokes serves as co-chair of the Criminal Immigration Working Group at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. She has guest lectured at Roger Williams University School of Law, Boston College Law School, and in the Criminal Law Clinic at BU Law.

Sherman-Stokes graduated cum laude from Bates College and cum laude from Boston College Law School, where she was a Public Service Scholar and recipient of numerous student awards for her dedication to the community through pro bono work.





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Alumni Highlights

Daniela Sorokko ('13) discusses the impact of BU Law's Civil Litigation Program

daniela sorokkoquote I joined the Boston University Civil Litigation Program as a 2L in the fall of 2011 to get an idea of what real litigators do and to take a much-needed break from the socratic method. I expected to find myself in a relaxed setting working on handpicked cases designed for the benefit of my legal education. What I walked into was much more of a baptism by fire than a spoonful of sugar experience.

While most of my peers started off with unemployment benefits appeals hearings at the DUA, I joined a three-student litigation team working with our supervising attorney on a federal district court case that was right in the middle of discovery. Our opposing counsels were partners at two different firms with about 65 years of experience between them. What should have been a one-semester employment litigation experience at Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) turned into a two-year stay and a complete revision of my career plans. During my fifth deposition I realized how much I was learning and enjoying being a student attorney.

I was able to help clients in a way that I had never anticipated when I first signed up for the clinic. During the two years, I got the chance to argue (and win) my first summary judgment motion in state district court, contribute to several cases at the Massachusetts Commission of Discrimination, represent clients in Family and Probate Court, and, of course help a few clients win their unemployment benefits at the DUA. There wasn't one specific memory that affected me more than the rest. All of my pro bono experiences as a student attorney shaped the way I will practice as an attorney. quote

This quote originally appeared in the Boston Bar Association newsletter.


Gabriela Ventura Gonzales ('12) on her fellowship at the California Health Benefit Exchange

gabriela ventura gonzalesGabriela Ventura Gonzales (’12) is living her dream as a state attorney less than a year out of law school.

“I wanted to be able to participate in the high-level, high-impact law and public policy issues of the day. Yet it was going to be really hard to get a job right out of law school, especially at the state level, without having bar results out,” says Ventura Gonzales. “BU Law really facilitated my dream of becoming a government attorney.”

Ventura Gonzales was one of 10 graduates awarded a full-time Public Service Fellowship by the School, launching her career in September before being admitted to the bar in December. By March, she was hired on full-time at her fellowship agency — the California Health Benefit Exchange (Covered California), a state-run health insurance marketplace established through the Affordable Care Act that will offer affordable and standardized health plans to California residents.

As a staff counsel Ventura Gonzales provides legal advice to program staff, negotiates agreements, reviews contracts and writes regulations at the state level to help implement policy. BU Law, she notes, equipped her with the fundamental skills she uses every day.

“BU Law prepared me beyond what I had imagined,” says Ventura Gonzales. “When I was applying to be an attorney, they asked about my experience with health law. I had done the concentration at BU Law, so I was very familiar with the Affordable Care Act and could speak to specific legal aspects that the concentration gave me the opportunity to be so well-informed about.”

She also credits her out-of-classroom experiences for equipping her with employable, real-life lawyering skills. Through various opportunities at BU Law, she was able to deepen her dual passions for health policy and immigration work.

Her exposure in the Legislative Practice Clinic to legislative drafting and applying federal law to the state level has been crucial to her current day-to-day. “It was very much related to the work I do now, where we’re interacting with the legislature, stakeholders and other agencies all the time because we’re starting up a brand new agency,” she explains.

Another out-of-classroom experience that Ventura Gonzales cites was a pro bono spring break trip to Texas, which is led each year by David McHaffey, a lecturer in immigration law and partner at Barker, Epstein, Loscocco & McHaffey. The trip inspired her to continue learning about immigration law and to participate in the Immigration Detention Clinic.

“The Immigration Detention Clinic gave me the ability to work one-on-one with clients in the community,” explains Ventura Gonzales. “I actually just got a call from a former client last week to thank me for the work I did last year through the clinic.”

“And now with my work at the Exchange, a lot of persons that have immigration-related questions will be applying for health care,” says Ventura Gonzales. “Being able to understand what an immigration status means and what they are eligible for is crucial.”

Encouraging students to get involved as early as 1L year, Ventura Gonzales notes all the opportunities BU Law provided.

“BU Law helped open the door for my career and built all my foundational skills that have made me successful so early on,” says Ventura Gonzales.

And ultimately, she is grateful for the foot-in-the-door opportunity that the Public Service Fellowship allowed her.

“Without that fellowship I wouldn’t be here, in Sacramento, in California. I get to work with a great team at the Exchange to help get Californians covered. BU Law gave me that opportunity right off the bat so I could show them I could contribute.”


Michael Lezaja's ('12) SIP experience helps him find his permanent place in DC

michael lezajaAn alumnus of Georgetown with an interest in politics and economics, Michael Lezaja ('12) was a paralegal at the Federal Trade Commission before law school and always considered returning to the nation’s capital. The Semester-in-Practice Program, which he pursued during his final semester at BU Law, was an ideal opportunity.

After discussing options with Professor Sean Kealy, Lezaja set his sights on the Department of Justice. His placement was in the National Criminal Enforcement Section of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, which handles international criminal conspiracies, primarily involving price fixing.

In his position, Lezaja was immersed in legal research and writing for cases being prosecuted in district courts all over the country. “The legal writing program at BU Law is excellent, but the demands of day-in, day-out legal writing gave me much-needed practice,” he says. “I think that because I was working full time, I was given better assignments and was able to work more collaboratively with the DOJ staff attorneys.”

Lezaja, who participated in staff meetings and trainings on substantive areas of antitrust law, stresses how important it was for him to simply observe lawyers and their interactions with witnesses and one another. He also notes that his mentors gave him valuable advice about preparing for his clerkship.

That advice — as well as the practical skills he sharpened during his SIP — came in handy in his day-to-day work at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, where he clerked for Judge Christine Odell Cook Miller. After his clerkship, Lezaja joined the Washington, DC, office of Ropes & Gray.


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Program News

Max Brooks ('13) receives Outstanding Clinical Student Award from CLEA

maxAt a ceremony in May, Max Brooks ('13) received the Clinical Legal Education Association's Oustanding Student Award for his excellent performance as a member of BU Law's defender program during his 3L year. Criteria for the honor, given to one student each year, include: quality of the student's performance in assisting or representing individual clients; quality of the student's thoughtfulness and self-reflection in exploring the legal, ethical, strategic and other pertinent issues raised in the particular clinic; and the nature and extent of the student's contribution to the clinical community at the student’s law school.

Professor Karen Pita Loor, who nominated Brooks for the award, described him in her nomination as a responsible student who went out of his way to represent the clients. “He researched legal issues thoroughly and drafted persuasive winning motions,” Loor said. “ He argued respectfully and zealously in court.”

Brooks also ventured outside the BU Law tower to interview government witnesses, track down defense witnesses and survey the scene.

Brooks says he was very grateful for the nomination and the award. “All of us in the clinic worked really hard for our clients this fall,” Brooks says. “It’s nice to have the efforts acknowledged.”

Having graduated in May, Brooks will be clerking for a federal district court judge in Portland, Maine for the next two years. After his clerkship, he hopes to pursue indigent defense and environmental advocacy.



Alison King ('13) Wins Student Ethics Award for Work in Criminal Clinic

AlisonAlison King (’13) has received the Association of Corporate Counsel - Northeast’s Law Student Ethics Award, which recognizes students who uphold the high ethical standards of the legal profession.

The $1,000 scholarship is given to 11 students, one from each of the participating local law schools, who have demonstrated an early commitment to ethics through work in clinical programs representing their first real clients. A gala dinner on April 12 celebrated the winners.

King’s supervisor in the criminal clinic, Wendy Kaplan, nominated her for exceptional advocacy for a teenage client when his and his parents’ interests were at odds.

“Alison knew that the child was her client, not his parents,” Kaplan wrote in her nomination letter. “She spent a great deal of effort establishing a strong attorney-client relationship, emphasizing that it was his wishes that governed her actions, not those of his family.”

“It means a lot that Professor Kaplan thought of and nominated me,” says King. “It really is an honor.”

Before coming to law school, King worked at Children’s Law Center in Washington D.C., where she gained experience in juvenile law. Her goal when she came to BU Law was to continue working with juveniles.

“I really wanted to do the clinic to work with teenagers,” says King. “But as I did it, I focused more and more on criminal law and started to really like that aspect. So I’m looking for a job as a criminal defense attorney with the long-term goal of doing juvenile defense.”

King notes the excellent hands-on experience she gained in the clinical program: “The clinic is just fantastic. Not only has it given me the court experience and the client experience, but also the professors go to bat for you and help you find jobs and such.”


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