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Steady climb to chief justice

Photo: New Hampshire Judicial Branch

Northeastern University alumna Linda Stewart Dalianis was recently sworn in as chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and she credits a co-op position as the turning point that led to her distinguished law career.

While studying English and journalism at Northeastern in the late 1960s, Justice Dalianis, LA’70, worked at the Nashua, N.H.-based company Sanders Associates (now part of BAE Systems), as the editor of its employee newspaper. She often interacted with the company’s top officials, including the legal counsel. At the same time, seeing her father being helped by an attorney caught her attention.

Justice Dalianis recalls thinking a law career could allow her to help others in much the same way her father had been helped, while also providing financial independence and allowing her to chart a course few women had yet traveled. Through a connection at her co-op, Justice Dalianis landed a job at a Boston law firm, which set her on the legal track.

“I credit Northeastern not only with giving me good work experience,” Justice Dalianis said, “but also for providing me with the network that laid the groundwork for where I am now.”

After working for six years in private practice following law school, she became an associate justice in the New Hampshire Superior Court system in 1980, and later served as the court’s chief justice. In 2000, she was elevated to an associate justice on the Supreme Court, and in December, she was sworn in as chief justice of New Hampshire’s highest court.

Justice Dalianis is the first woman to have served at all four judicial levels in New Hampshire, and said she was acutely aware of her responsibility to work hard and succeed in order for other women to follow her lead.

“My progression is my proudest achievement,” she said.

Justice Dalianis is the latest Northeastern graduate to ascend to a state’s highest judicial position. Roderick Ireland, PhD’98, H’98, was confirmed as chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in December, becoming the first African American to hold the position.

Margot Botsford, JD’73, also serves as an associate justice on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.