Other Stories from In Brief
bc law magazine spring/summer 2005
Gift Enhances Collection
Brooker donates 2,500 rare documents
When the famed Goodspeed Bookstore on Beacon Street in Boston was closing, a friend who worked there and knew of Robert E. Brooker’s interest in history gave him an eighteenth-century property deed from a farm in western Massachusetts. The gift set in motion a chain reaction that would result a decade later in Brooker’s own recent gift to BC Law of the Robert E. Brooker III Collection of American Legal and Land Use Documents: 1716–1930.
Brooker had been intrigued by the deed. Its descriptions of the trees and stones that formed the boundaries, its wax seal, and the thumbprint signatures appealed to his imagination—and to the collector in him. “They told such a story of aspirations,” says Brooker.
Brooker tracked down descendants of the farm’s owners and sold them the deed. Then he set to work acquiring what eventually became a collection of some 2,500 documents and manuscripts spanning the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
With its focus on New England deeds of land and other property, contracts, legal documents, business papers, and evidence of everyday life as depicted in letters and estate inventories, the collection proved a good match for BC Law, whose collection emphasizes the life of the working lawyer over four centuries.
“This gift dovetails with the focus of our collection,” says Karen Beck, curator of rare books. “Professor Dan Coquillette’s generous gifts of books will give us the books a typical lawyer owned and used in the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries. We are purchasing the books owned by a typical nineteenth-century lawyer. So this gift fits our timeframe perfectly [and] provides documentary evidence of how the law affected the lives of real people.”
Brooker, who is CEO of ICLUB, a software firm in Cambridge, comes from a long line of collectors. His maternal grandmother dealt in rare books and manuscripts, his father collected European military pistols, and his mother acquired French porcelains.
A Harvard graduate, Brooker approached his alma mater when his collecting spree ended. Then he learned of the theme of BC’s collection. “I was very fortunate to find out about BC’s collection,” Brooker says, praising the efforts of Coquillette and Beck. “Their level of enthusiasm and dedication meant a lot to me. It was infectious. I couldn’t have been more delighted.”
An exhibit of the collection was held in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room from January to May.
The Numbers are In
Rankings are fickle. After four years among US News Report’s top twenty-five law schools, Boston College Law School dropped to twenty-nine in 2004, down seven places. Yet, in the same period, BC Law also was recognized by The National Jurist as third in the nation for being the best school for the money.
Though rankings are imperfect indicators of a school’s real value, they are influential marketplace arbiters. Media polls measure what can be measured, things like admissions numbers and job placement.
Job placement was a determining factor for BC Law’s US News standing in 2004. Despite the fact that 93 percent of 2003 graduates had jobs—a success from the Law School’s perspective—the metric upon which the ranking measured employment rates indicated otherwise.
A number of variables are weighted as a part of a total score, which ranges from 1 to 100. The Law School’s total score this year was sixty-four. That put BC Law in a tightly bunched group of eleven law schools with total scores that ranged from sixty-four to sixty- seven. So, a very small change in one variable can entail a fairly large move on the list.
Calculating their rankings using a different method, National Jurist and co-producer of the “Best Value” poll, PreLaw Insider, used six factors to calculate their honors, including tuition, bar pass rate, unemployment rate of graduates, and the median grant as a percentage of tuition.
Torch Bearer Student's Essay Leads to Olympic Run
BC Law student John Bauters ’06 entered the Olympic torch contest on a whim, taking no more than ten minutes to fill out an online form he found on ESPN.com.
He didn’t even remember doing it when he got the phone call a few weeks later telling him he’d won. “I almost hung up on her,” Bauters recalls. “I thought she was trying to sell me something.”
Bauters had beaten more than 7,000 people who had entered the Samsung and ESPN-sponsored contest to carry the torch through four American cities. Bauters ran in New York in June.
His essay related the way he tries to live his own life to the story of the Olympic rings, the linking of the five continents, and the Olympic values of participation, brotherhood, and peace. “I wrote about how, having been blessed with a number of talents, I have taken my skills and shared them with people around the world,” he said, “including working with abused children in the US, teaching AIDS and leadership workshops in Africa, working at an orphanage in Chile, and spending a year as a Red Cross Disaster Relief worker back here.”
Regaining the Mantle of Patriotism
Michael Posner, executive director of Human Rights First, criticized many of the post-September 11 changes in immigration and human rights policy during the annual Owen M. Kupferschmid Lecture on Human Rights at the Law School in March. What’s often missing from the debate, he said, is consideration of what patriotism really means.
“[The Bush administration says] it’s us against them; you’re either for us or you’re for the terrorists,” Posner said. “That is an outrageous comment. I think the kinds of things I’m talking about here are acts of patriotism. We’ve got to regain the pride and the mantle of patriotism.”
That’s why it’s important for those in the rights community to start talking to those on the security side. “National security is all of our business, and there is a need to find rights-neutral security measures that will protect us all and protect our liberty. We have to start talking to one another,” he said.
—April Otterberg ’06