BU Law is pleased to announce this year’s Commencement speaker, The Honorable Roderick L. Ireland, Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, Chief Justice Ireland received his B.A. from Lincoln University, a J.D. from Columbia Law School, and an LL.M. from Harvard Law School. He also holds a Ph.D. in Law, Policy, and Society from Northeastern University.
Ireland began his legal career in 1969 as a Neighborhood Legal Services attorney, and then worked as a public defender with the Roxbury Defenders Committee, progressing from chief attorney to deputy director and then 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 Appeal on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bond.
Ireland has been a jurist for more than 34 years. He served as a judge of the Massachusetts Juvenile Court from 1977 to 1990, after which he was appointed an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. In 1997, he was appointed by Governor William F. Weld as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, becoming the first African-American justice in the court's history. He was elevated to Senior Associate Justice in 2008, and then was appointed Chief Justice by Governor Deval Patrick in 2010. He is the thirty-sixth chief justice in the court's history, and the first African-American chief justice.
He has served as an adjunct faculty member at Northeastern University since 1978, and on the faculty of the Appellate Judges Seminar at New York University School of Law 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.