Lynda M. Connolly

Judge Lynda Connolly

Judge Lynda Connolly was honored with the prestigious St. Thomas More Award at Boston College Law School Law Day this year, was named Woman of the Year by the Boston College Women’s Law Center, and received the Mary Daly Curtin and John J. Curtin Public Interest Law Award from BC Law.

Lynda arrived in Boston from her home state of Virginia in the fall of 1970 to study at BC Law, even though she had never seen a female attorney before. “I wanted to be a lawyer – whatever that meant, and I wanted to get involved in politics,” says Lynda.

Her parents were natives of Massachusetts, ardent Kennedy supporters and civil rights advocates. Boston seemed like the perfect venue to pursue her goals. Little did she know that BC Law would play a key role in her quest.

Then known as Lynda Murphy, she met her husband, Michael J. Connolly, future Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1979 to 1995), on the main stairwell of More Hall their first week of school. They married after the end of first year. Lacking the funds to pay for two tuitions, Lynda and Michael got day jobs and transferred to the night program at Suffolk University Law School.

But even with their busy work and school schedules, politics beckoned. They soon found themselves “knocking on doors” to campaign for Michael’s first bid for public office on the Boston City Council.

Lynda recalls fondly that Paul Cellucci ’73, future Governor of Massachusetts (1998 to 2001) and Ambassador to Canada (2001 to 2005), was the first person she ever “went knocking on doors with, in Ward 18 in Boston.” Her friendship with Paul was the unintended consequence of the alphabetical seating chart in the 1L Torts class where Paul Cellucci sat next to Michael Connolly.

Michael won his second campaign for state representative and immediately after the primary in 1972, Lynda transferred back to BC Law, completing her studies with the class of 1974.

The early ‘70s and BC Law
Lynda describes the early 1970s as a “heady time” to be in Boston. “So many of our friends were running for office or were involved in public service,” says Lynda, “and it was also a great time to be at BC Law.” She recalls having Professor Sanford Katz for Contracts her first year and Professor George Brown for Local Government Law and Corporations in her third year. “We all knew Professor Brown was a Republican because he came out of Massachusetts Governor Sargent’s administration, but he was fantastic. He introduced us to the concept of corporate responsibility and taught us how to draft legislation. He was simply wonderful.” (Professor Brown is still at BC Law, having served as Interim Dean in recent years, and Professor Katz is still teaching at the law school.)

Connolly family1980

All in the family … and BC Law
Lynda’s participation in politics did not just involve her husband Michael’s campaigns, which included an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate in 1984 against another BC Law alumnus, John Kerry ‘76 (U.S. Senator from 1985 to 2013 and current U.S. Secretary of State). Lynda and Michael’s oldest child John Connolly, who was born in Lynda’s third year of law school and who graduated from BC Law in 2001, ran last year for Mayor of Boston. It was a hotly contested race because Boston’s longest serving mayor, Thomas Menino, chose not to run for re-election. Ironically, Lynda found herself knocking on the same doors she had knocked on over 40 years earlier with classmate Paul Cellucci, who died of Lou Gehrig’s disease last year. Lynda’s son John lost his mayoral bid in a tight race and is now launching a foundation for education reform, his cornerstone issue.

A supportive BC Law community
Reflecting on her career over the last 40 years, Lynda recalls warmly that so many of her mentors were BC Law alumni. “BC Law alumni have always made themselves available to serve as mentors to junior men and women coming up behind them. That is one of the cherished gifts of being part of the BC Law community,” says Lynda.

Now that her four children are grown, Lynda is excited to have the time and opportunity to give back to BC Law. She became a volunteer in recent years at the urging of classmate John Hanify, who was instrumental in Lynda’s decision to join the Alumni Board. Lynda particularly enjoys going back to campus, which moved from More Hall in 1975 to the former Newton College of the Sacred Heart, volunteering as a judge for the student advocacy programs. “I am in awe of the breadth of the programs and the caliber of the students’ performances.”

A BC Law education of service and good citizenry
In its mission statement,  the Law School “recognizes its commitment to social and economic justice,” and “encourages our students to develop their own individual commitment to others and to explore those themes which are central to the Jesuit tradition: the dignity of the human person, the advancement of the common good and compassion for the poor. We seek to train a diverse student body not merely to be good lawyers, but to be lawyers who lead good lives, and who will be prepared to seek and to find meaningful work in service to others that will enrich their communities.” Lynda marvels at the quality of a BC Law education. “The law school teaches students to be good lawyers as well as good citizens on the city, state and national level.”

In addition to U.S. Secretary of State and former U.S. Senator John Kerry,and former Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci, BC Law alumni holding elective office include Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy ’80, Senator Ed Markey ’72, former U.S.Senators Warren Rudman ’60 and Scott Brown ’85, and former Attorney General of Massachusetts Thomas Reilly ’70, as well as numerous other U.S. Congressional representatives and state and local government officials.

Lynda’s formula for success
With her years of legal, judicial and political experience, what advice does Lynda give young college students who are thinking of a career in law? Lynda says, “I have distilled it down to the following: show up, work hard, and be nice, and then opportunities will present themselves. If nothing else, you will have earned a reputation for being reliable, with a solid work ethic, and you will be a pleasure to work with.”
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Lynda looks forward to taking a brief break from her eleven beautiful grandchildren to attend our Reunion this fall. She hopes to see all of you there.

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