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Heights of Justice

an anthology of faculty scholarship

In an effort to raise awareness of the groundbreaking scholarship of its faculty members, Boston College Law School has compiled excerpts of faculty research papers for publication in a hardbound collection. The volume, titled Heights of Justice, is a truly one-of-a-kind publication – the first attempt by a law school to combine essays by its various scholars into one collection with an overarching theme.

“This is a brand-new approach,” said BC Law Academic Dean Lawrence Cunningham, who edited Heights of Justice. “Instead of sending out glossy pamphlets about our scholarship, we are sending out the scholarship itself.”

When Cunningham stepped into the role of Academic Dean last year, he considered strategies for maintaining the school’s commitment to producing high quality research – an important component of any law school’s mission. A book project seemed like an effective approach to raising awareness of the work of professors and consequently inspiring them to produce the best work possible.

Written scholarship is critical to any law school’s vitality, but it’s no secret that the research process is often painstakingly hard work, said Cunningham. Even after the researching and writing of a paper is complete, professors must petition for publication in a student-run law journal – a notoriously complex process. “When professors teach, they enjoy the immediate reward of be able to watch their student develop and grow as thinkers. Research, on the other hand, doesn’t always carry the same immediate payback,” he said. “This is a way to reward them for their dedication and ensure that at the very least a sample of their scholarship is available to the public.”

Every essay in Heights of Justice stands on its own as an individual work—in fact it comes out of previously published essays and articles--but the book is best read from start to finish, as each chapter lays a foundation for the one after it. All of the essays connect in some way to an overarching theme of how to ensure that a sense of justice permeates the world’s legal systems. Cunningham said that connecting the essays around this central theme occurred to him early in the planning process. As he began pouring over the works of faculty members, he observed an awareness of social justice rooted in their scholarship – an outgrowth of the university’s foundation in Jesuit teaching.

“Arranging the project in this way was a no-brainer,” Cunningham said. “A central theme crystallizes a sense of collegiality among the faculty and reinforces the fundamental goal of the school – that we don’t seek to train lawyers, but lawyers with a conscience.”

Copies of Heights of Justice will be distributed to faculty and other members of the legal profession. It will be available for public sale on the Web site later this spring.