Excerpts of remarks by Professor Bob Bloom ’71 on receiving the William Kenealy, S.J., Alumnus of the Year Award at 2015 Law Day 

2015 Law Day honorees: Professor Emerita Ruth-Arlene W. Howe ’74 (St. Thomas More Award); Professor Robert M. Bloom ’71 (William J. Kenealy, SJ, Alumnus of the Year Award); David Schoen ’84 (Honorable David S. Nelson Public Interest Law Award); and the Honorable Leslie E. Harris ’84 (Daniel G. Holland Lifetime Achievement Award)

I have had two fulfilling families in my life: My first family, including my wife of 43 years, Tina who, as a recent graduate of Wellesley College, was the executive director of the BC LAB, which is where met during the summer of my second year of law school; my children, Martha and David, both of whom are high school teachers; and my grandchildren, Matthew and Liam.

My second family, with whom I have enjoyed a somewhat longer relationship, started in September of 1968 when I walked from my house in Brighton to BC Law School wearing a tie and jacket, and carrying a very heavy green book bag and tremendous nervousness. I was apprehensive but eager and thankful to be going to school and not Vietnam.

As a student at BC Law, I learned so much more than the law. I learned about community, humanity, and justice. Father Drinan, the dean at the time, talked to us about training architects of society. Father Drinan often quoted the Hammurabi Code, one of the first codification of law, and said that the purpose of law was to protect the powerless from the powerful. So many of my classmates, mainly men from all over the country, were inspired by Dean Drinan’s encouragement and went on to follow the Jesuit tradition using their education in the service of others.

I have many memories of this time.  For example, my Property teacher, Dick Huber, a graduate of Annapolis and a captain in the Navy, would often stop Property class as we heard “Taps” being played in in the Evergreen Cemetery next to our classroom for another soldier lost in Vietnam. I recall Jim Houghteling on his bike bringing in clothes and a crib for a classmate who had just had a child; and my tax professors, Hugh Ault and Paul McDaniel, who taught us how to use tax policy to make a better society. When I was a second semester third-year student with my long hair and my anti-war buttons, my dear friend, Professor Peter Donovan, whom I lovingly call Pedro, called on me daily in his Corporations class. He would say, “Bloom, what does your sense of justice and fair play dictate on this issue?” This harassment was against the long-held tradition/common law that professors did not call on second semester third-year students. I hated him. And then at our graduation, he met my Jewish mother and told her what a wonderful young man I was. My mother got home from graduation and told me she had met this sweet lovable man–Peter Donovan. My mother loved him, so how could I not as well.

Upon graduation, I got a civil rights fellowship which took me to Savannah, Georgia, where I practiced education law, and to Cambridge Somerville legal service, where I represented public housing tenants and juveniles. As my fellowship was ending I got a call in the spring of 1973 from Dick Huber, then dean of the law school, who urged me to apply to the Legal Assistance Bureau, thus beginning my tenure as a professor at BC Law. I recall my first faculty meeting when Professor Richard Sullivan insisted I call him Dick and had me sit between him and Professor Emil Slizewski. I recall the advice and support I got from Professor Sanford Fox who mentored me as we both shared a commitment to children’s rights. I remember my dear friend, Professor Sanford Katz, who always was there to give me sage advice, and Professor Mary Anne Glendon who nurtured and encouraged my scholarly pursuits.

I have had and continue to have wonderful colleagues and have known six deans, each of whom has contributed to the Law School, but I only have five minutes to talk. Dean Coquillette was so helpful to me in in recommending me to Matthew Bender who hired me to work on Moore’s Federal Practice, and Dean Rougeau has many of the same caring and humane qualities as Dick Huber. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my closest colleague and co-author of the eighth edition of our Criminal Procedure book, Mark Brodin, who I affectionately call Markee and who shares with me a deep commitment to BC Law, our students, and social justice.

The most fulfilling part of my job has been my students. Students who invite me to their weddings, tell me about the birth of their children, and stay in touch with me. Father Drinan taught me the Jesuit tradition by his example. My own tradition of the Talmud tells me that every blade of grass has an angel over it saying “grow, grow.”  I am no angel, but I have had many blades of grass that have done much for their clients, their communities, and their society. As a teacher, when one of my former students succeeds, I feel in a small way part of that success. I am especially pleased when that student succeeds despite considerable odds.

I feel as though I should not be honored but that BC Law School should be honored for giving me, a kid from the projects of Brighton–first from my family to go to college and then law school–the opportunity to realize the American Dream.

Back to newsletter >>