Ruth Budd

It is hard to believe it has been 50 years since graduating from law school.

My road to BC Law:
After graduating from Smith College, I got a Master of Arts in Teaching from Harvard and taught high school Social Studies for several years. Then I had my first child and asked myself, now what? Someone suggested going to law school which I had never considered. After we moved to Atlanta, I went over to Emory University and discovered they had a part-time law program. The dean, who was very keen on admitting women, admitted me. As I began, I realized that I loved the study of law. After two years we moved back to Boston and went to see Dean Father Drinan. He explained that BC had just discontinued their part-time program, but he admitted me just the same.

I went another three years, part time, having had another child during that time, and graduated with the rest of you. I don’t think BC law professors (or students) had seen a pregnant woman in their classes–one who had to run home between classes to pick up one child from pre-school and nurse another. I became good friends with Father Drinan, a man who I respected enormously, and urged him to consider admitting part-time students, especially women, and that we wouldn’t lower the standards of BC Law. My recollection is that all of the women in the class of 1968 were admitted to Order of the Coif.

My journey after BC Law:
After a brief stint working for the Massachusetts Attorney General Eliot Richardson, (he left in the fall of 1968 to go to Washington when Nixon was elected), I worked at a couple of law firms and ended up for most of my career at Hemenway & Barnes, now the oldest law firm in Boston. I was proud to be their first female partner.

I specialized in family law. During my legal career I chaired both the Family Law Section of the Boston Bar Association, the Family Law Section of the Massachusetts Bar Association, and was President of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. For over 20 years I chaired and taught the Family Law Basics Course for Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, training thousands of new lawyers. I also co-edited the Massachusetts Divorce Law Practice Manual, the basic four-volume text of divorce law in Massachusetts. I also did pro-bono work for the Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union and JALSA (Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action).

Upon reflection:
I think I have only appreciated later what pioneers those of us in the class of 1968 were for women entering the legal profession. Like many women of my generation, we can tell many tales of discrimination against women (“Our clients wouldn’t want to deal with a woman,” or “This section in the courtroom is reserved for attorneys,” or “Stenographers sit over there,” etc.).

My last 50 years did not turn out exactly as I imagined when I was in law school. My intention, during law school, was to go into public service, but for a number of reasons I entered practice in a law firm. I had no idea I would love family law. It was challenging and different each day, and I felt that who I was, as the attorney, really could make a difference in people’s lives. I thoroughly enjoyed practicing law until the day I retired.

I look forward to seeing and reconnecting with my classmates at our 50threunion this fall.

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