Northeastern’s new top lawyer helped drive Mass. Attorney General’s office

Mary Strother will be taking the helm as General Counsel at Northeastern University on January 3, 2022. Strother comes to the university from the office of Maura Healey, the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where she serves in the key leadership position of First Assistant Attorney General. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Northeastern University has appointed a new general counsel to lead its broad portfolio of legal, risk, compliance, and public safety operations.

Mary B. Strother will step into the role of Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun announced today. Strother comes to the university from the office of Maura Healey, the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where she serves in the key leadership position of First Assistant Attorney General.

She is joining the Northeastern community “at a moment of exciting possibilities,” President Aoun wrote. He added, “She will play the role of ‘counselor’ in every sense of the word, helping to guide the university across many dimensions of work as we continue to expand globally and implement Experience Unleashed, our new academic plan.”

Strother is an accomplished attorney and leader with extensive experience across a wide range of legal and public policy domains. In the Attorney General’s office, Strother led investigations and enforcement in areas such as public protection, health care and fair competition, energy and environmental enforcement, and criminal prosecutions. She also helped oversee organizational development and inclusion efforts within the Attorney General’s office, and established the office’s employee well-being initiative.

“I love the work I’m doing now in furthering the mission of helping the people of the Commonwealth and making a difference. I see this as an opportunity to continue doing what I really love doing as a lawyer, which is working at a very mission-driven organization where I can do high-quality legal work that covers a broad spectrum of issues, and work with a really amazing team, both in the General Counsel’s office and with the president and his executive team,” Strother says.

“At both the Attorney General’s office and in private practice, I’ve benefited from having just sensational co-ops rotating through from the Northeastern law school and undergraduate programs. I saw what a difference that can make in an office, and also in the life of a student,” she says. “President Aoun and his team are on the right track with the concept of lifelong learning and, of course, the long history that Northeastern has with the co-op program. I think it is the future of higher education, and I’m excited to be part of helping him carry out that mission.”

In the Office of the Attorney General, Strother assisted with overseeing a large and complex team, including the management of more than 600 staff and their work with various agencies and investigations, and helped to oversee office operations, hiring, and budget. She also played a key role within the Organizational Development and Inclusion Office and established the office’s employee well-being initiative.

Before joining the Attorney General’s office, Strother served for two decades at the global law firm WilmerHale, which included seven years as the firm’s Deputy General Counsel and Special Counsel. Her work there over the years included advising firm management on legal and ethical matters, representing clients in court proceedings, arbitrations and mediations, and representing and preparing the firm and firm members in litigation.

Strother was recently named a Top Women of Law award recipient by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, and has served on a range of boards and committees to advance women’s leadership, ensure ethical legal practice, and promote public trust and confidence in the judicial system.

She also serves as an Alumni Partner for the Princeton Internships in Civic Service where she mentors current Princeton students in non-profit organizations and government offices. She also serves on the character and fitness subcommittee of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Steering Committee on Bar Admissions, and on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being.

Strother has also served on the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, and was chair from 2014 to 2015. She is also a member of the Boston Bar Association’s Women’s Leadership and Advancement Forum, and has served on the Executive Committee and Ethics Committee for that association.

Strother holds degrees from Princeton University and Columbia University School of Law.

At Northeastern, Strother will serve as an officer of the university and join President Aoun’s senior leadership team on January 3, 2022. Her broad portfolio will tap into her extensive expertise as both a lawyer and a catalyst of a culture of innovation in the areas of legal, compliance, regulatory and public safety policy matters. She will collaborate with senior leaders across the university’s colleges and departments across Northeastern’s global network to counsel and strategize. She will help facilitate, strengthen, and create partnerships, and drive change in alignment with university priorities.

Strother will replace Ralph Martin, who has served as the university’s senior vice president and general counsel for a decade. Martin, who is retiring at the end of December after 10 years of service, elevated the General Counsel’s office from a largely local operation to a global and strategic legal team over the course of his tenure.

In his email to the university community, President Aoun wrote, “Throughout his years at Northeastern, Ralph’s vision to elevate and modernize our General Counsel’s office and the departments he oversees became truly indispensable in a period of extraordinary growth—in Boston and throughout our global network.”

Martin’s work as general counsel was wide-ranging, including the enhancement of community engagement initiatives, the formation of the Northeastern University Police Department’s advisory board, the implementation of Northeastern’s Institutional Master Plan as well as complex governance issues at the London campus.”

“Beyond these accomplishments, Ralph was a trusted adviser to many people and constituencies,” President Aoun wrote. “Ralph’s unique ability to communicate with people and anticipate change make him an invaluable colleague and trusted adviser. I also consider him to be a true friend. Ralph will always be a member of the Northeastern family.”

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