Peter J. Mancusi
Why, oh why?
By the time I came to BC Law in 1990, I had already been a working journalist for 17 years, which raises a basic question: Why go to law school at all? Some background is in order. In 1973, I was lucky enough to get a copy boy’s job atÂ The Boston Globe. I was a 19-year-old sophomore at Northeastern University, a â€œco-opâ€ hire taking advantage of NU’s unique program that allows students to alternate their studies with periods of real-world experience related to their majors. Mine was journalism, and when the opportunity came to join theÂ Globe,Â I grabbed it.
After spending a few months fetching coffee and tending to other newsroom tasks, I was deemed ready to write obits and, after that went well, to become aÂ GlobeÂ student correspondent. For the next four years, basically on a full-time basis, I was a reporter for the paper, covering stories big and small, from the desegregation of the Boston public schools to local politics and crime.
I did a brief stint atÂ The Providence Journal following graduation, and then returned to theÂ GlobeÂ as a staff member, working first as a general assignment reporter before joining the Spotlight Team. (Yes, that Spotlight Team.)Â I later became the paper’s legal affairs correspondent, indulging my long-time interest in the law by covering the local legal scene as well as major legal issues in the courts. And then, in one of those fortunate turns life sometimes takes, I won a journalism fellowship to Stanford, based on a proposal to explore the dynamics of the Supreme Court and its cases.
Which led me to BC Law.
Bit by the bug.
I didn’t get there right away. After my fellowship year, I returned to theÂ GlobeÂ to work as local political editor and city editor. But during my year at Stanford, most of it spent at the law school, I had gotten the â€œbugâ€ to get a law degree. With theÂ Globe’sÂ support, I went to BC Law, while continuing to work as weekend city editor.Â After graduation,Â I spent four years as a litigator at theÂ Globe’sÂ law firm, Bingham, Dana & Gould– I’m pretty sure I’m the only former editor to ever bill hours to the paper–and then returned to theÂ GlobeÂ to edit the Business section, my last run on Morrissey Boulevard.
Merger of two passions.
BC Law allowed me to complete my education and immerse myself deeply in the law, which animates so much of daily life and which, along with my journalism background, serves as the foundation of my role today leading the issues and crisis management practice at Weber Shandwick in Boston. I work at the intersection of law and communications, providing counsel for corporate clients, organizations and individuals facing all kinds of reputational issues.
These challenges have multiplied exponentially in a 24/7 media world driven by digital and social media, where a video, tweet or news story can metastasize and spark scrutiny from both internal and external audiences and stakeholders, as well as regulators and law enforcement officials. While I am not a practicing lawyer, on nearly every matter in which I’m involved I collaborate with lawyers to make sure legal and communications strategies align. And I still know my way around a brief–in a pinch, I have written a section or two of a filing to help meet a deadline.
All of which is to say I’ve been able to combine my media and legal experience in a way that lets me keep touch with the past chapters of my career. I no longer write and edit stories, but I still work closely with reporters and editors on behalf of clients. It’s been years since I argued a motion, but I still serve as an advocate, pushing to make sure my clients’ positions are understood and reflected in media reports and through other communications channels.
To say it’s been an interesting journey would be an understatement. And while the journey didn’t begin at BC Law, the school’s willingness to take in and accommodate a non-traditional student set me on a path that has enabled much of what has happened since, and for that I will always be grateful.