First UMass Law class to graduate

History-making first School of Law degrees to be awarded on May 21.

UMass Law will graduate its first class on May 21 during UMass Dartmouth's Graduate Commencement Exercises. Approximately, 50 students will be the first ever to receive a law degree from the University and first ever to receive a law degree from a public higher education institution in Massachusetts. 

UMass Law was opened as UMass Dartmouth's eighth college in September 2010. The law school exceeded enrollment expectations in its first year. 

Speaking at the historic graduation ceremony will be Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Roderick Ireland, who will be presented the Chancellor's Distinguished Service Medal. 

Chief Justice Ireland is the 35th Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. He was sworn in as chief justice on December 20, 2010, following his appointment by Governor Deval Patrick. 

Chief Justice Ireland began his legal career in 1969 as a Neighborhood Legal Services attorney, then worked as a public defender with the Roxbury Defenders Committee as chief attorney, deputy director, and executive director. He was Assistant Secretary and Chief Legal Counsel for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance and Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Appeals on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bond. 

Chief Justice Ireland has been a jurist for more than thirty-three years, serving as a judge of the Juvenile Court from 1977 to 1990, after which he was appointed an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court (1990-1997). He was first appointed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in 1997 by Governor William F. Weld. He became the Senior Associate Justice in 2008. 

When he was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court in 1997, he was the first African-American Justice in its then 305-year history and now serves as its first African-American Chief Justice. 

Chief Justice Ireland has been an adjunct faculty member at Northeastern University since 1978 and on the faculty of the Appellate Judges Seminar at New York University Law School since 2001. He is the author of the Juvenile Law volume of Thomson/West Publishing's Massachusetts Practice Series, the second edition of which was published in 2006, as well as law review articles. 

A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, he received his Bachelor of Arts from Lincoln University; Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School; Master of Laws from Harvard Law School; and Doctor of Philosophy in Law, Policy, and Society from Northeastern University.


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