The Law Dean Series

Vincent D. Rougeau

Boston College Law School
Vincent D. Rougeau
Boston College Law School

Boston College Law School is recognized as a leading law school, being named among the top 30 law schools by US News. Established in 1929, BC Law was the first graduate program of Boston College.

Since that time, it has grown to be widely recognized for providing a solid legal education that prepares lawyers for both the theory and practice of law. Experiential learning opportunities such as clinics, externships, advocacy programs, simulations, and public interest opportunities are available to provide hands-on, real-world learning experiences.

Boston College Law boasts the Center for Experiential Learning, the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy, the Curtin Center for Public Interest Law, the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy, and the Center for Human Rights and International Justice among its centers and initiatives available for law students.

Since 2011, Vincent D. Rougeau has served as Dean of Boston College Law School. A graduate of Harvard Law, Dean Rougeau was Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Notre Dame. His teaching interests include contract and real estate law, and he is considered an expert in Catholic social thought. He is a Senior Fellow at the Contextual Theory Centre in London, where he works with the Just Communities project, which "explore[s] the role of religious communities in community organizing and the formation of democratic citizens in the multicultural neighborhoods of East London."

Dean Rougeau participated in our law dean interview series by answering our questions about the opportunities available to law school students and the challenges they may face in law school and beyond as practicing attorneys. He gave us his views on how legal education and the field of law are evolving in the 21st century and beyond.

What is the biggest challenge facing new law students?

I think navigating a rapidly changing profession will present ongoing challenges (and opportunities) for law students. I think the way lawyers are employed will continue to change and many traditional ways of practicing law--such as in a large law firm--will face ongoing challenges in the years ahead. Students need to understand that there will be a lot of volatility in what lawyers do and how they practice for the foreseeable future.

What is the single biggest challenge that you face as Dean?

My biggest challenge is ensuring that BC Law provides academic. ethical and professional preparation of the highest calibre in a way that represents real value to students in particular, and to the legal profession more broadly. This means constant attention to controlling the expenses of running a law school, while still enhancing our programming so that the legal education we provide remains relevant in a era of rapid technological change and global economic integration.

Which areas of the law do you think will experience the biggest growth over the next few years?

I think we are going to see a lot more businesses creating their own legal teams. More work will be done in-house, and more lawyers will have opportunities to develop careers within particular business sectors that are not limited to traditional roles for lawyers, such as general counsel.

Is teaching law now different compared to when you were a law student?

Yes, law faculty are teaching from and to a much broader range of experiences. In particular, there is vastly more experiential learning and it is more broadly integrated across the curriculum.

How do you think technology will impact criminal defense?

I don't think we can even begin to imagine the extent of the changes in store. We are already seeing how technology has allowed us to record situations as they occur, which has changed the nature of eye-witness testimony. DNA and other scientific evidence is overturning convictions and preventing countless others. I think we will increasingly be able to identify criminals with more and more certainty, which, over time, will change when and how prosecutors decide to pursue criminal convictions.

What do you think are the biggest legal challenges facing the Supreme Court?

I think the Court's biggest challenge is ideology. SCOTUS risks becoming consumed by our country's slide into ideological gridlock. We must continue to hope that the justices' commitment to the gravity of their responsibility to the nation will allow them to do their best to rise above the partisan fray, but it is already clear that that will be difficult.

Are there any aspects of practicing law you miss due to being in education?

I do miss working with clients, learning about their businesses, and helping them solve their problems.

If you could invite any three legal or governmental identities (living or dead, real or fictitious) to a meal, whom would you invite?

Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, and Pope Francis

What is your favorite legal movie?

To Kill a Mockingbird

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