Suffolk University Law School alumni make an impressive imprint on Rhode Island’s judiciary and legislature. Nearly half of the sitting judges in Rhode Island and three of the five state Supreme Court justices are Suffolk Law graduates.
Graduates of the school serve as the Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives (Nicholas Mattiello JD ’88), the House Majority Leader (K. Joseph Shekarchi BS ’84, JD ’90), and the Senate Majority Leader (Michael McCaffrey JD ‘89).
Rhode Island’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul A. Suttell JD ’76 serves with Associate Justices Maureen McKenna Goldberg JD ’78, HLLD ’99 and Francis X. Flaherty JD’75. Chief Justice of the District Court is alumna Jeanne E. LaFazia JD’80.
Mary McElroy JD ’92 was nominated by President Obama and then re-nominated by President Trump for U.S. District judge (R.I.). Trump announced his nomination of McElroy, the state’s first female chief public defender on April 10.
Judge Frank Caprio JD’65, HLLD’91, the Chief Municipal Judge in Providence, has been called a social media phenom and viral superstar by national publications profiling his court’s televised proceedings. His courtroom sessions have been viewed more than 1 billion times on social media.
Asked why Suffolk Law is such a powerful force in Rhode Island, the school’s dean, Andrew Perlman said one factor is that the school attracts many students who are particularly interested in litigation because of its reputation as a great school for trial advocacy training. The school has come out on top among the New England schools in the regional championships of one of the two major national student trial competitions 28 times in the last 33 years, he noted.
Also, a good-sized cohort of Suffolk students pursue public interest and government law, and students with that interest generally bring a roll-up-your sleeves and get-the-job-done ethos that tends to be prevalent among individuals who eventually become judges, he said.
Suffolk Law is a national leader in practice-focused legal education, with four legal skill programs ranked in the national top 20 by US News & World Report. Its Trial Advocacy program ranked 14th nationally, the third year in a row that it has earned a spot in the top 20.