Judge Nancy Gertner to Speak at Heller Commencement on May 22

April 28, 2011

Judge Nancy Gertner, who serves as a United States District Judge for the District of Massachusetts, will be the speaker at the Heller School's 2011 commencement on Sunday, May 22. Gertner has been a passionate advocate for justice as both a defense attorney and as a federal judge. She will retire from the bench in September, at which time she will become a professor of the practice at Harvard Law School.

Gertner has been on the federal bench since 1994, when President Clinton appointed her to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Prior to that, she had a 20-year career as a lawyer, first at Silverglate & Gertner and later at Dwyer, Collora & Gertner, and was celebrated for her work as a criminal defense attorney and civil rights activist. She has taught at Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, Boston College Law School and the Boston University Law School.

Gertner has lectured both nationally and internationally, including at the Monash Law School International Study Program in Prato, Italy and the Central European University in Budapest. She has served on the faculty of the American Bar Association-Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative, and is currently a member of its advisory board. Gertner also has participated in numerous educational and reform initiatives in the former Soviet Union, Turkey, Israel, China, Cambodia and Liberia.

Her just-published memoir, "In Defense of Women: Memoir of an Unrepentant Advocate," details how the US legal culture responded to the growing number of women in the ranks and how US law changed in response to the gender-driven legal issues they raised. In 2008, Gertner became the second woman - after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg - to receive the Thurgood Marshall Award from the American Bar Association, Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, for both her career as a lawyer and as a judge. Gertner is a 1967 graduate of Barnard College, and she completed her J.D. from Yale Law School and her M.A. in political science from Yale University, both in 1971.

Judge Gertner is also a Founder of the Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Program, which is housed at the Heller School at Brandeis University.

Heller's commencement will be held on Sunday, May 22, at Spingold Theater on the Brandeis campus.

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