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Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland Portrait Fund

In honor of Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland’s profound devotion to social justice, his knowledge and discerning application of the law, his deeply ingrained sense of integrity, and his tireless efforts to enhance the administration of justice, the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association and the Boston Bar Foundation collaborated to establishing the Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland Portrait Fund.

The MBLA and the BBF are pleased to announce that they Fund has reached it's goal to fund the creation of a portrait of Chief Justice Ireland to hang in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court at the John Adams Courthouse in commemoration of his distinguished and trailblazing career, which culminated with his historic appointment to that Court.  

“As the first African-American in more than 300 years to serve on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court as both an Associate Justice and then, as Chief Justice, I have been mindful that I represented many people, from all walks of life, who lived, worked, struggled, and died to make my time on the bench a reality,” Chief Justice Ireland has consistently voiced over the years.  “I was their beneficiary – I stood on their shoulders each and every day, and thus carried with me a heartfelt responsibility not only to uphold the law, but also to protect the rights of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens.”  

In July 2014, Chief Justice Ireland retired after serving thirty-seven years on the Massachusetts bench, and it is in honor of his unwavering commitment to justice that this Fund was created.

About Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland

Originally from Springfield, Massachusetts, Chief Justice Ireland received his B.A. from Lincoln University, J.D. from Columbia University Law School, LL.M. from Harvard University Law School, and Ph.D. in Law, Policy and Society from Northeastern University. He began his legal career working first in Harlem, and then in Roxbury, with nonprofit legal aid organizations.

Prior to his appointment to the Boston Juvenile Court in 1977, Chief Justice Ireland held several positions in Massachusetts state government, including Assistant Secretary and Chief Legal Counsel for the Executive Office of Administration and Finance in the Dukakis administration.  In 1990 he was elevated to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, and in 1997 to the Supreme Judicial Court. His judicial service as Program Chair of the Judicial Youth Corps, a summer program founded by former Chief Justice Paul Liacos which partners the court system and selected high schools in Boston, Springfield and Worcester, spans its twenty-five year history.

Chief Justice Ireland is the author of the Juvenile Law volume of Thomson/West Publishing’s Massachusetts Practice Series (1993 and 2006), and law review articles by him include “In Goodridge’s Wake: Reflections on the Political, Public, and Personal Repercussions of the Massachusetts Same-Sex Marriage Cases.”  

He has taught not only at many Boston area law schools, but also at New York University Law School’s Appellate Judges Seminar. Currently he is a Distinguished Professor on the full-time faculty at Northeastern University's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, where he has taught since 1978.   

Chief Justice Ireland has been widely recognized for his community contributions and professional achievements, and those honors include the Boston Bar Association’s Haskell Cohn Award for Distinguished Judicial Service (1990), the Massachusetts Judge’s Association President’s Award for Judicial Excellence (2013), the Boston Bar Association’s Judicial Excellence Award (2014), and the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2015).