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BC Law School Dean John Garvey is flanked by inaugural Lee Scholars Mark Brodin and Mary Bilder. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Brodin, Bilder are First Lee Scholars at BC Law School

Law School professors Mark Brodin and Mary Bilder have been named the first recipients of the Michael and Helen Lee Distinguished Scholars Endowment at Boston College

By Melissa Beecher | Chronicle Staff
Law School professors Mark Brodin and Mary Bilder have been named the first recipients of the Michael and Helen Lee Distinguished Scholars Endowment at Boston College.

The Lee Scholars program was been made possible by a $500,000 donation from Michael Lee, a 1983 BC Law graduate, and his wife, Helen. The money will be used to support the research of select senior faculty members beginning this year. The award is given over a five-year renewable term.

Michael Lee is the president and CEO of Tower Group, Inc., a privately held insurance service holding company he founded in 1989. 

"I am so happy with what the Lees' gift makes possible," said BC Law Dean John Garvey. "They share the vision our community enunciated in the strategic plan for this campaign – to build a great faculty of scholars and teachers. Mary Bilder and Mark Brodin are representatives of the best we have. Michael's and Helen's generosity will provide the necessary support for their work."

"I am very honored, delighted and pleased that Boston College has continued to support research and scholarship in the way that it has for my entire career here," said Bilder. "It is enormously generous in a difficult financial time for alums to step forward and continue to provide this kinds of support. Particularly now, I feel that it is so remarkably generous."

Brodin said he was "very flattered, gratified and honored to be named a Lee Scholar."

Being a Lee Scholar, said Bilder, affords her the opportunity to continue work on a new book, Madison's Hand, the first text devoted entirely to James Madison's notes of the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. Madison, who would later become the fourth president of the United States, was a principal author of the US Constitution.

"There has been a lot of work on Madison's notes, but no book that attempts to think about what the notes, as a historical artifact, really tell us about early constitutional interpretation and about James Madison's thoughts," said Bilder, who is the first to work with the Library of Congress to secure digital images of the original notes for extensive study.

Brodin, meanwhile, is putting the finishing touches on a biography of long-time Boston attorney William P. Homans Jr., whose career was marked by his willingness to take on controversial or unpopular cases and to defend clients who could not afford legal representation. Homans argued for the abolishment of the death penalty in Massachusetts in 1975, won a landmark case on appeal after a man was convicted on manslaughter for performing a legal abortion, and won the acquittal of a soldier charged with killing his sergeant during the Vietnam War.

"Bill Homans was among the first who brought the kind of exactitude that lawyers in the corporate firms give to their well-resourced clients," said Brodin, who knew Homans while practicing civil rights law in Boston. "He brought attention to the unfortunates who were brought up in the system."

In addition, Brodin will use his time as a Lee Scholar to update a number of texts, currently in subsequent editions.

Melissa Beecher can be reached at