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Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

“It’s a tremendous honor for me to be here this evening to celebrate the start of the second 100 years of this amazing law school, and it’s a privilege to be here with ‘America’s Favorite Dean,’” said Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, as she began her Convocation address on September 23, 2008. Justice O’Connor was referring to Dean John F. O’Brien’s (’77) status as the nation’s longest serving law school dean in her remarks to several thousand members of the New England Law | Boston community at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Justice O’Connor was the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court, serving from 1981 to 2005. The story of the founding of New England Law’s predecessor, Portia Law School (the first law school exclusively for women) resonated with Justice O’Connor, who faced many challenges in the 1950s when she was breaking into the law field.

One of the Convocation ceremony’s many highlights was a news-show-style Q&A, with Dean O’Brien engaging Justice O’Connor on a wide range of topics. Her humility and directness drew cheers and appreciative laughter on several occasions.