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Maura Healey: School of Law Commencement speaker

Commencement Speaker
Maura Healey
Honorary degree: Doctor of Laws

For Maura Healey, the practice of law has always been about serving the public good. It was that conviction that drew Ms. Healey to attend Northeastern’s School of Law, and it has remained the guiding star for her professional life.

Ms. Healey, elected Massachusetts’ attorney general last November, refers to her office as “The People’s Law Firm”—a legal voice advocating for consumers, for civil rights, and for the most vulnerable members of society.

In 2007, after seven years in private practice with WilmerHale in Boston and a stint as a special assistant district attorney in Middlesex County, Ms. Healey had the opportunity to put that credo into action. As the newly named head of the Civil Rights Division and chief of the Public Protection and Business and Labor bureaus, she oversaw 250 lawyers and staff members; they soon would have plenty to do.

The financial crisis, touched off by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, struck within months of Ms. Healey’s appointment, putting millions of homeowners across the country in peril of losing their homes.

Ms. Healey shut down predatory mortgage lenders in Massachusetts and oversaw a team that worked with homeowners to help make their loans affordable. The program prompted banks to modify thousands of home mortgages and stop more than 900 foreclosures.

On social issues, Ms. Healey led the successful challenge against the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prevented the federal government from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples, and helped defend the Massachusetts buffer zone law that put boundaries around anti-abortion protests at reproductive health centers.

Prompted by hearing the story of a college student who could not access iTunes because he was blind, she secured an agreement with Apple that solved the problem, and ultimately served as a catalyst for Apple to make more of its technology accessible.

Colleagues and friends say that Ms. Healey’s energy, poise, and natural ability for connecting with people on a personal level have been key to her success. And Ms. Healey credits those qualities to her family upbringing.

Ms. Healey grew up in communities along Massachusetts’ North Shore, learning the values—hard work, discipline, and the importance of taking care of others—that would help make her the point guard and captain of the women’s basketball team at Harvard, and ultimately, guide her throughout her career.

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