BU Law Celebrates Retiring Faculty
Two transformative faculty members announce their retirement as of January and August 2022.
Professor of Law Wendy J. Gordon
Professor Wendy J. Gordon has taught copyright law, intellectual property theory, and related courses at the law school for 29 years. She is most known for her work on the ‘fair use’ doctrine of copyright law, the equitable doctrine that allows some copying and adaptation of copyrighted works when such allowance would serve important social goals. Her scholarship utilizes economics as well as ethics and analytic philosophy to understand copyright, trademark, and related forms of intellectual property.
The opportunity for interdisciplinary work is one of the features of BU life that Professor Gordon has particularly prized. She loves “having the chance to teach with—and that means ‘learn from’—faculty whose disciplinary homes are different than mine.” Professor Gordon has co-taught courses at Boston University in law and literature with literary critic and Professor Sir Christopher Ricks, a course on political theory with a philosopher, and a course on copyright and rhetoric with a Shakespearean actor.
Gordon’s scholarship has been cited by the US Supreme Court three times. Her influence on intellectual property scholarship has also reached as far as Japan’s University of Hokkaido, which developed a class devoted to exploring her work.
Professor Gordon coedited two books on the economics of copyright and published numerous law journal articles and book chapters. She also serves on the editorial board of the European Journal of Law and Economics. She is frequently called upon to analyze cases garnering national attention. For example, she commented on the infamous “Blurred Lines” copyright infringement case in an op-ed for Newsweek. Gordon explained, “A closer look shows that the judge erred in his instructions to the jury by blurring the lines between what does and doesn’t constitute copyright infringement.” She concludes that the Gaye family’s success in the case may have set a nerve-wracking precedent, “Artists seek inspiration from the past. Through borrowing and building upon ideas and ‘grooves’ from those who came before, culture evolves.”
Gordon was awarded a Fulbright scholarship in 1999–00 and spent a semester as a visiting senior research fellow at St John’s College, Oxford University. She is a recipient of the New Jersey Governor’s Fellowship in the Humanities and twice served as the chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Intellectual Property. Gordon was appointed William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor in 2011. She had appointments and has guest lectured at several law schools, in the US and abroad, including the University of Chicago, Oxford, and Yale. Before her time at BU Law, she taught law at Western New England College School of Law, Rutgers, Georgetown, and the University of Michigan.
Prior to teaching law, Gordon clerked for Judge Theodore R. Newman Jr. of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and practiced at Pierson, Ball & Dowd in Washington, DC.
“Professor Gordon has brought an important lens to the scholarship of intellectual property law,” says Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig. “She focused on ensuring the exchange of ideas and information was accessible to all. We are so grateful for her contributions and wish her the best in her retirement.”
Please join us in congratulating Professor Gordon for her years of service.
Clinical Professor of Law Wendy Kaplan
Wendy Kaplan has been instrumental to the growth of the Criminal Law Clinical Program for almost 45 years.
A former public defender with the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, Professor Kaplan’s primary clinical work represented defendants in criminal and delinquency trials, many of whom were part of the juvenile court system. She guided students through complex cases and ensured they were prepared for the intensity of court. Kaplan also developed and taught a seminar on juvenile delinquency that was an outgrowth of her clinical work in the juvenile court system.
“Professor Kaplan understands there are many factors that lead a person to need a public defender,” says Dean Onwuachi-Willig. “Her students have benefitted greatly by learning from her about the full context of their clients’ situations and the systems’ influence on them. Wendy’s teachings will continue to impact many courtrooms. We wish her the best in her retirement.”
Outside of BU Law, Kaplan is a devoted leader of the Massachusetts criminal law and juvenile justice community. She is a founding member of the board of Suffolk Lawyers for Justice, a nonprofit organization that oversees a panel of approximately 250 private attorneys assigned to indigent representation in Suffolk County. She has also been active in the Massachusetts Bar Association—as a former member of the Board of Delegates and as the chair of several section councils.
“[Professor Kaplan] has had a tremendous impact on generations of BU Law students and on the quality of criminal justice in Massachusetts.” says David Rossman, director of the Criminal Law Clinical Program who has worked with Kaplan through the entirety of her time at BU Law. “Wendy is professionally and personally a courageous defender for the program and for her students.”
Kaplan acknowledged that BU Law is a special place for many reasons: “The clinical program has built a wonderful team with the support of the University. My clinical faculty colleagues are generous and collaborative and have created an excellent learning environment for our students.”
While her schedule may slow down, the legacy of her teaching has already extended beyond the law tower. “I have immense satisfaction in the varied career directions that my students have taken,” she says. “I hope they are imbued not only with the knowledge, but also the desire to seek justice to make the system that they work in better and improve it.” She keeps track of her past students’ achievements—a long list of case wins and public service appointments.
Kaplan has always worked, even through law school, and so her “retirement” won’t look much different: she plans to serve her community through local boards and pro bono work and will remain involved with BU Law. She will also continue as chair of her town’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
Though it was a difficult decision to close this chapter, Kaplan is confident that the outstanding work of the clinic will carry on following her retirement in August. “The criminal clinic is in wonderful hands,” she says. “It’s going to be great.”
Please join us in congratulating Professor Kaplan for her years of service.