Stephen H. Oleskey, an international leader in pro bono legal work, will deliver the commencement address during this year’s Northeastern University School of Law commencement ceremony. More than 200 students will receive their juris doctor degree during the celebration, which will take place on Friday, May 22, at 1 p.m. in Northeastern’s Cabot Center.
Oleskey, senior partner at WilmerHale law firm, has been co-lead counsel since 2004 in the case of Boumediene v. Bush, a federal habeas corpus suit challenging the imprisonment of six men from Bosnia in held in Guantánamo Bay without charge or trial. Oleskey also served as Massachusetts deputy attorney general and chief of the Public Protection Bureau from 1987 to 1988.
A partner in WilmerHale’s Litigation/Controversy Department and a member of the Complex Commercial Litigation Practice Group, Oleskey focuses his practice on complex civil litigation and appellate matters, with a particular emphasis on real-estate-related litigation.
Oleskey’s 40-year commitment to pro bono legal work has earned him numerous honors. The American Bar Association awarded him the 2007 Pro Bono Publico Award for his outstanding pro bono work, both in his individual practice and as an advocate for pro bono services at WilmerHale and throughout the legal community. He also has received the Boston Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award for exemplary commitment to public service and outstanding advocacy on behalf of low-income citizens of Massachusetts, and the Greater Boston Legal Services’ Dow-Gardner-Landrum Award for outstanding commitment to legal services for the poor.
Oleskey is past director and president of the Greater Boston Legal Services, and past director and chairman of the board of the Boston Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project. He was appointed to the board of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation in 1995 by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and was chair from 2003 to 2005. He served from 1998 to 2008 as chairman of the Massachusetts Equal Justice Coalition. He currently chairs the board of directors of Pact, an international sustainable development NGO headquartered in Washington, DC, with programs in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. Oleskey also served on the national board and as general counsel to the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (now Legal Momentum).
“We are thrilled Mr. Oleskey will speak to our graduates about his lifelong commitment to pro bono work. I am personally impressed by his most recent achievements in the Guantánamo cases, but also by his constancy of purpose in seeking representation for people who cannot afford expensive lawyers,” said Dean Emily Spieler. “He is a terrific example of the kind of lawyer we hope all of our graduates will become.”