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The Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy

Academic Law Fellows: 2015-2016

the clough center for the study of constitutional democracy

The Clough Center recognizes Boston College Law Students of exceptional academic ability and accomplishment who are enrolled in any of the Law School’s degree programs. The 2015-16 Academic Law Fellows are:


Thanithia Billings

Thanithia Billings

Thanithia Billings is a law student at Boston College.  Originally from a small town in Georgia, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Princeton University in Princeton, NJ.  Her undergraduate thesis was entitled The Effects of Race and Gender on Impression Formation. During her time at Princeton, she was the captain of the varsity track team, which helped her develop an interest in the organizational structure of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).  After law school, she hopes to stay in Boston working at a law firm with plans to eventually work in college athletics.  She strongly believes that the way in which the NCAA operates is not sustainable from a legal prospective, and lawyers are going to be the driving force behind a large shift in college athletic governance. 


Mary Pat Brogan

Mary Pat Brogan

Mary Pat Brogan, a current Boston College Law School student, grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2011, earning a Bachelor of Arts in History and in English. After graduation, she participated in MercyWorks Volunteer Program, a year long full-time program at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, a therapeutic residential program for teenagers in Chicago, IL. There she worked with young men between ages 17 and 21 using a strengths based perspective to foster personal growth and healthy development. The following year, she worked in the After School Programs department at Mercy Home, developing extra-curricular programs, facilitating a tutoring program and running a summer enrichment program for the young men in the home.

During her first summer of law school, Mary Pat worked at the National Juvenile Defender Center in Washington, D.C. as a summer law clerk. The mission of the National Juvenile Defender Center is to promote justice for all children by ensuring excellence in juvenile defense.

During her second year of law school, Mary Pat participated in the Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project (JRAP), a clinical experience during which she represented youth involved in the juvenile justice system and who required representation in asserting their education rights. Students in JRAP provide individual, thorough legal representation to their clients. As part of her JRAP experience, Mary Pat also assisted at the Law Offices of Sarah E. Lyons, where she worked on care and protection cases.

This summer, Mary Pat will work at the Maryland Office of the Public Defender in Howard County with their juvenile defense team.

In her third year of law school, Mary Pat will participate in the Ninth Circuit Appellate Project. Under the supervision of Professor Kari Hong, she will work with another student to prepare briefs and argue an immigration case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the future, Mary Pat hopes to continue to work with young people as an advocate. She hopes to practice as a juvenile defense attorney in a public defender’s office.


Patrick Gaudet

Patrick Gaudet is a rising second-year law student at Boston College Law School. He was born in Concord, Massachusetts, but has lived in Colorado, Ohio, and Illinois. Patrick attended the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, majoring in philosophy. He spent his 1L summer as a judicial intern in United States District Judge for the District of Massachusetts Timothy S. Hillman in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Patrick is interested in punishment theory, particularly problems regarding proportionality and moral epistemology and its impact on justice. His senior thesis project at the College of Wooster discussed and defended a theory of punishment based on the work of Warren Quinn, wherein punishment is justified as the product of a natural right to issue and enforce self-protective threats.

When he is not working or studying, Patrick enjoys playing video games, hiking, reading, and whitewater kayaking. Following graduation, he hopes to pursue a legal career in corporate law.


Brian Shaud

Brian Shaud

Brian Shaud is a member of the Boston College Law School Class of 2017. He grew up in Swarthmore, PA and received his B.A. in government from Georgetown University in 2012. As an undergraduate student, Brian focused on American government and political theory, including writing about apparent inconsistencies in Samuel Pufendorf’s theory of the state.

While at Georgetown, Brian worked in the United States Senate and at a political consulting group, researching pending Congressional legislation and federal agency regulations. He worked as a middle school mathematics teacher in Philadelphia after graduating, as a Teaching Fellow through The New Teacher Project. He joined Community Legal Services of Philadelphia in fall 2013, where he worked to education tenants of the Philadelphia House Authority about their legal rights.

Brian looks forward to his upcoming judicial internship with Federal District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly this summer in Washington, DC. He serves as an Auction Chair for BC Law’s Public Interest Law Foundation and reached the final round of the 2014 BC Law Negotiations Competition. Brian looks forward to building on his experience in government and the non-profit sector by practicing law in the public interest after graduating.


Larissa Warren

Larissa Warren

Larissa M. Warren is a dual degree graduate student at Boston College, pursuing a J.D. and M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. She is a graduate of Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminology. Prior to beginning her graduate program, Larissa served as Executive Director of a rural non-profit that provides shelter and support services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. In that role, she participated in multi-disciplinary efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and sexual assault. That experience developed an understanding of the necessity of engaging multiple fields and perspectives in solving social problems. She is also a graduate of Drury Police Academy and volunteered as a reserve sheriff’s deputy in rural Missouri.

Larissa believes in a holistic, community-driven approach to criminal justice reform. She seeks to equip fellow citizens with knowledge, passion, and resources to positively participate in their communities. Through dual J.D./M.Ed. training, Larissa hopes to facilitate partnerships between the education and traditional criminal justice systems to prevent crime by empowering families fostering inclusion, and offering diverse opportunities.

During her final graduate year, Larissa plans to study the ways constitutions influence culture and community. She hopes to engage in comparative constitutional analysis of the impact of human rights provisions and means of popular interaction with the constitution on societies. Furthermore, she intends to examine effective means of mobilizing citizens to become active parts of their constitutional democracies.


Amelia Wirts

Amelia Wirts

Amelia M. Wirts is working on a joint degree in philosophy and law at Boston College. After receiving a B.A. in philosophy and a B.S. in communication studies from University of Oregon in 2009, she began her PhD in philosophy in 2010. She recently defended her dissertation proposal, and is currently working toward the JD portion of her joint degree while doing research for her dissertation.

Amelia’s dissertation argues that democratic legitimacy as understood by political philosophers is impoverished by idealization that does not account for the reality of concrete individuals and groups who work to oppose injustice. This idealization has led philosophers to overemphasize the role of legislatures in securing democratic legitimacy. To counter this narrative, she will examine not only the ways that laws are created, but also the ways in which they are implemented through court rulings and administrative regulations. One fruitful source for understanding legal implementation are the practices of those who legally advocate for women and other oppressed groups. Understanding actual legal practice illuminates the relationship between legitimacy and conceptions of justice held by everyday individuals. It also forces a re-examination of how democratic legitimacy is theorized and evaluated. In the course of exploring this relationship between legitimacy, conceptions of justice, and actual legal practices, she will discuss the normative foundations and justifications of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), as well as its regulations and interpretations that effect women’s lives on the ground.

Understanding legitimacy in both the moment of legal legislation and the moment of implementation shows how democratic legitimacy both reflects and shapes our shared values. This happens domestically, but also internationally. On the international level, following Seyla Benhabib, Amelia will argue that human rights and other international legal structures can similarly empower women as they fight against unjust oppression, but not through a top down enforcement mechanism. Like the domestic case, publically justified international laws become tools for women as they make claims against their own governments, communities, and religious organizations. For an international example, she will explore the role of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

While in law school, Amelia hopes to gain helpful insight into substantive areas of law that relate to alleviating gender-based oppression, including family and criminal law. She also is working to gain an understanding of how the practice of law relates to the democratic institutions that shape our lives.

When she finishes her joint degree, Amelia hopes to continue her research projects as a professor of philosophy and/or law. In the meantime, she is excited to continue the law portion of her joint degree.


Timothy Wright

Timothy Wright

Timothy Wright is a 2016 J.D. candidate at the Boston College Law School. Tim’s background draws on both entrepreneurialism and environmental law. Prior to law school, Tim co-developed an award-winning electronic device that tests water quality using cellular phones. Then, during his first year at BCLS, Tim complemented his studies by working as a compliance analyst at an applied environmental research group. Known as pH Global, the group designs mathematical algorithms to detect erosion in dams, oil pipelines, and highways. In his position, Tim negotiated the acquisition of fiber-optic temperature data from a Korean-based outfit and helped draft portions of a licensing agreement that grants clients the right to use certain proprietary software.

Tim’s entrepreneurial drive has paralleled his academic focus on environmental issues, particularly those involving international transboundary governance, resource demand, and, uniquely, presidential power. As a Wingspread Fellow at Northwestern University, Tim conducted a fourteen-month research study on the Nile Basin, analyzing 150 years of bilateral environmental accords between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. Later, Tim published his dissertation on maritime delimitation under famed LSE Professor Michael Mason. Those writing experiences helped Tim explore complex legal problems in environmental law at BC. As a staff writer (and now symposium editor) for the Environmental Affairs Law Review, he investigated the president’s constitutional power to exempt federal agencies from adhering to environmental regulations.

Entering his third and final year, Tim is interested in continuing his research on presidential power in environmental law. Using his knowledge on international transboundary governance and resource demand, he wants to better understand the president’s constitutional prerogative, if any, in international environmental crises. After graduation, Tim hopes to draw on his knowledge from BCLS and his past startup experiences while working at a corporate law firm.    

Tim received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and international studies from Northwestern University in 2010. He also was awarded a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics.