Aspiring lawyers of the Boston College Law School Class of 2022 will have their final academic year capped with a commencement speech on May 27 from Kimberly S. Budd, chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC).
“She is very impressive,” Alexandra Levay, BC Law ’22, said. “She has a very diverse experience, especially in law firms and public interest work. For law students, her story is inspirational for how we want to build our careers.”
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker nominated Budd to the Massachusetts SJC as an associate justice in 2016. In 2020, Baker nominated Budd to be the court’s chief justice, and once confirmed, Budd became the first African American woman to serve in the position.
Osman Yasin, BC Law ’22, said Budd’s experience as a woman on the court is also a source of inspiration among law students.
“People talk about how women, especially in law, can never become partners or get too far,” Yasin said. “Unfortunately, [women] aren’t valued as much compared to their potential male colleagues.”
According to Diane Ring, interim dean at BC Law, the law school looks for the brightest minds of the legal field when choosing a commencement speaker.
“We are generally looking for people holding leadership positions in the legal profession, preferably with a long and distinguished record of public service,” Ring said.
The process of choosing a commencement speaker is lengthy and industrious with several factors going into the final decision, Ring said.
“We receive a number of recommendations from various sources in the BC Law community throughout the year, and through a series of meetings with various stakeholders at the law school and University, [we] narrow down our list to a preferred choice before extending the invitation,” Ring said.
According to a release from BC Law Magazine, Budd’s father, Wayne Budd, was the first African American U.S. attorney in Massachusetts.
After graduating from Harvard Law School, Budd worked in private practice at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. She then followed in her father’s footsteps, serving as an assistant U.S. attorney and then as an attorney for Harvard University. She also taught at New England Law and Harvard Law.
“I would like to know what made [Budd] pivot her career that way,” Levay said. “What made her make those decisions?”
Thomas Wesner, an associate professor at the Carroll School of Management, also praised Budd’s experience and reputation in the field, especially in her jurisprudence.
“Budd enjoys a superb reputation in Massachusetts and beyond in the way she administers court proceedings, as well as how she handles people,” Wesner said. “She represents the law with great dignity and is a superb pick to speak at the commencement.”
Budd’s selection as keynote speaker is impactful beyond the remarks she will deliver at the commencement ceremony in May, according to Yasin.
“She is historic,” Yasin said. “The first Black woman serving as chief justice for the Massachusetts Supreme Court. That’s huge, given the school loves to emphasize the importance of diversity. I think giving diverse people platforms like this is important and shows that Boston College does care about these kinds of things.”
Steve Mooney / Heights Editor