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Justice Margaret H. Marshall to Teach at HLS

Former Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice to join HLS faculty

By Juliet R Bailin, Crimson Staff Writer

At the end of a speech about judicial reform last year in Memorial Church, former Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court Margaret H. Marshall asked her listeners, “Will you act on the ideas embodied in the Constitution—and teach them to others?” Starting next semester, Marshall will do just that. Harvard Law School announced Thursday that Marshall would join its faculty as a senior research fellow and lecturer.

“Chief Justice Marshall has demonstrated brilliance and courage throughout her career, leading anti-apartheid efforts in the 1960s; championing educational progress here at Harvard and elsewhere; and galvanizing ground-breaking reform to the Massachusetts judicial system in the past decade,” Law School Dean Martha Minow said in a press release. “We at Harvard Law School are so honored that she will share her talents, experiences, wisdom, and brilliance along with her enduring commitment to access to justice.”

Marshall, who grew up in apartheid-era South Africa, became the first woman to serve as Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 1999 and retired in 2010. During her 14 years on the Court, Marshall wrote over 200 opinions, including the majority opinion in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the 2003 case that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

Marshall received a masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1969. She went on to attend Yale Law School. After practicing law in Boston for 16 years, she became general counsel of Harvard in 1992—the first woman to fill the position, according to the HLS press release.

Since then, Marshall has served as president of the Boston Bar Association, chair of the National Center for State Courts, and a fellow of the Yale Corporation, according to her biography on the state court system website. She served a one-year term as president of the Conference of Chief Justices.

In 1998, Marshall became the first recipient of the Harvard College Women’s Professional Achievement Award.

“Harvard Law School is one of the great centers of legal scholarship,” Marshall said in the HLS press release. “It is a privilege to be returning to a University that has been so important in my legal career, and to have the opportunity to teach and learn from a new generation of students who will in the future play such important roles in all parts of the legal profession.”

—Staff writer Juliet R. Bailin can be reached at

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