Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Fernande R.V. Duffly, speaking at the Suffolk University Law School Commencement, urged graduates to continue the Law School’s legacy of “commitment to diversity, breaking down barriers and opening doors.”

The vision of Suffolk University Law School’s founders and present leadership “resonates deeply with me as an Asian-American and an immigrant,” she said, noting that the institution graduated African-American, Chinese-American and women students early in its history and long before other law schools did so.

“Their stories – our stories – are the stories of America,” she said during morning ceremonies on Sunday, May 20, at the Bank of America Pavilion on Boston’s waterfront.

Duffly encouraged the graduates to dedicate their talent and at least a portion of their time to pro bono work, noting a “crisis” in legal representation for the underprivileged in a nation where “equal justice for all is the cornerstone of our federal government and our society.”

Suffolk University awarded Duffly an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Justice Duffly previously served on the Appeals Court and the Probate and Family Court. Following law school, Duffly joined the litigation department of the Boston law firm Warner and Stackpole, now known as K&L Gates. As an attorney, she provided services to indigent clients through the Volunteer Lawyers Project, and as a judge she works toward promoting equal access to the courts and full diversity on the bench and in the legal profession.

Duffly is an active member and past president of the National Association of Women Judges. She serves as the Association’s liaison to the ABA's Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession.

She has written articles and taught seminars on a broad range of topics, including appellate decision-making, family law, trusts, parental rights, and gender, ethnic and racial bias.

Duffly holds a B.A. from the University of Connecticut and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Andrew Ngo delivered the student address.

Additional Speakers and Honorary Degrees

The Law School also awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Sarah M. Buel, clinical professor and director of the Diane Halle Center for Family Justice at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Buel is known as a leader in advocacy for battered women and children. She served six years as a prosecutor in Boston and Quincy, where she helped establish award-winning domestic violence and juvenile programs in the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office. She went on to be a clinical professor at the Texas School of Law, where she founded and co-directed the institution’s Domestic Violence Clinic, co-founded the University of Texas Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and served as special counsel for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. Buel earned a J.D. at Harvard University and a B.A. from Harvard Extension School.

Alan D. Solomont, ambassador of the United States to Spain and Andorra, spoke Sunday afternoon at the University’s undergraduate commencement, where he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Administration degree.

The Sawyer Business School and College of Arts and Sciences also awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree to Dr. Augustus A. White III, orthopedic surgeon, professor of orthopedic surgery and the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Professor of Medical Education, at Harvard Medical School.

Entrepreneur Jeffery Taylor, founder of, delivered the address at the Sawyer Business School graduate student commencement on Saturday morning at the Westin Copley Place Hotel. He received an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Newton, delivered the address at the College of Arts and Sciences graduate student commencement on Saturday afternoon, also at the Westin Copley Place Hotel. He received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.


•College of Arts and Sciences bachelor’s degree candidates: 789
•College master’s degree and doctoral candidates: 280
•Sawyer Business School bachelor’s degree candidates: 546
•Business School master’s degree candidates: 399
•Law School juris doctor candidates: 475
•Law School master of laws candidates: 35