Yale Law School
Ed M, 1969
- toggleSpotlight - Margaret Marshall Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
Retired Chief Justice Margaret Marshall has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The American Lawyer, given each year to a small number of distinguished senior lawyers who have made unusual contributions to public life and the legal profession. Read more...
Margaret H. Marshall rejoined Choate, Hall & Stewart in January 2012. As Senior Counsel, Marshall focuses on the firm’s extensive community outreach, pro bono and diversity programs, mentors lawyers, and provides senior level counsel to clients on special projects.
Before rejoining the firm she served for eleven years as Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts until her retirement in December 2010. She was the first woman to hold that position in the Court’s more than three hundred year history. Governor William F. Weld first appointed her as an Associate Justice of the Court in 1996. A graduate of Witwatersrand University (Johannesburg, South Africa), Harvard University and Yale Law School, Marshall gained a national reputation for both her landmark decisions and her reforms of the Massachusetts court system. Chief Justice Marshall was recently named a senior research fellow and lecturer at Harvard Law School.
During her fourteen years on the Supreme Judicial Court, Chief Justice Marshall wrote more than 300 opinions, many of them groundbreaking, including the 2003 decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, which declared that the Massachusetts Constitution prohibits the state from denying same-sex couples access to civil marriage. The ruling made Massachusetts the first state to legalize gay marriage. She is recognized as a champion for an independent judiciary and as a leader in the promotion of administrative reforms within the judicial branch. Marshall is credited with modernizing the Massachusetts judiciary, bringing greater transparency and accountability to the management and professionalism of the courts. Her reforms greatly improved the delivery of justice, with significant decreases in case backlogs and in the length of time between the filing and resolution of cases, as well as in cost-savings throughout the system. A long-time advocate of access to justice for all, she implemented innovative procedures for self-represented litigants and strengthened pro bono services by the bar.
Prior to her service on the Supreme Judicial Court, Marshall was in private practice for sixteen years, and was a partner at Choate, before joining Harvard University as Vice President and General Counsel in 1992. She has received numerous awards recognizing her judicial and other accomplishments, including the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession’s Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, the ABA’s Pursuit of Justice Award, the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award for outstanding leadership in the administration of justice, and the Boston Bar Association Award for Judicial Excellence. She was the first recipient of Harvard University’s Professional Women’s Achievement Award. Marshall served as president of the Boston Bar Association from 1991-1992 and as President of the United States Conference of Chief Justices from 2008 - 2009. She is a member of the council of the American Law Institute, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has published numerous scholarly articles on judicial independence and the role of state courts in the United States. A recipient of many honorary degrees, she served as a Fellow of the Corporation of Yale University from 2004 to 2010.