Gants to receive Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award at 2020 MBA Annual Dinner

Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020
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Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants

The Massachusetts Bar Association will honor Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants with the MBA Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award at the 2020 MBA Annual Dinner on May 6. The Hennessey Award is presented to a federal or state court judge within Massachusetts who has upheld the highest traditions for public service, while demonstrating extraordinary leadership and dedication to improving the administration of justice.

Gants became the 37th Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) chief justice in July 2014 when he was sworn in by Gov. Deval Patrick, and had previously been appointed an SJC associate justice in January 2009. Before joining the SJC, he served for more than 11 years as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court and was administrative justice of the Superior Court's Business Litigation Session in 2008.

Gants is co-chair of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission, and also serves as chair of the Access and Fairness Committee of the Conference of Chief Justices. In addition, Gants is the chair of the SJC Working Group on Substance Use and Mental Health.

"As the chief judge and public face of the commonwealth’s highest court, Chief Justice Gants has been an unwavering champion of equal access to justice and quality legal services for all the residents of Massachusetts," said MBA President John J. Morrissey. "From his annual participation in the Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid to his support for a right to counsel in civil cases, Chief Justice Gants has worked tirelessly to improve the administration of justice, in line with the mission of our association."

Gants received his B.A. from Harvard College in 1976, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. The following year, he completed a Diploma in Criminology at Cambridge University in England. In 1980, he earned a J.D. degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where he was note editor of the Harvard Law Review. He began his legal career as a law clerk to United States District Court Judge Eugene H. Nickerson, and then served as a special assistant to FBI Director William H. Webster. Gants later was an assistant U.S. attorney in Massachusetts and chief of the Public Corruption Unit before joining the Boston law firm formerly known as Palmer & Dodge LLP, where he practiced law until he was appointed to the Superior Court by Gov. William Weld. He has taught at Harvard Law School, New England Law | Boston and Northeastern University School of Law.  

Among his awards and honors are the 2017 Massachusetts Bar Foundation Great Friend of Justice Award, the 2016 Haskell Cohn Award for Distinguished Judicial Service, the Boston Bar Association Citation of Judicial Excellence, and the Suffolk Law School Public Service Award. He was also awarded honorary Doctor of Law degrees from New England Law | Boston in 2015, and the University of Massachusetts School of Law - Dartmouth in 2016.

The MBA Annual Dinner will also include the presentation of a scholarship to a third-year law student, the 2020 Access to Justice Awards and more. Dahlia Lithwick, a contributing editor at Newsweek and senior editor at Slate, will deliver the keynote address.

Consider attending this annual event as a sponsor. Click here for a sponsorship form (PDF). Opportunities include:

  • Champions of Justice ($10,000)
    Up to two tables for 10, full page ad in dinner program, firm name/logo projected at the dinner and featured on MBA website, additional prominent recognition at the dinner
  • Platinum Sponsor ($5,000)
    Table for 10, full page ad in dinner program, firm name/logo projected at the dinner and featured on MBA website
  • Gold Sponsor ($3,500)
    Table for 10, 1/2 page ad in dinner program, firm name/logo projected at the dinner and featured on MBA website
  • Silver Sponsor ($2,500)
    Table for 10, 1/4 page ad in dinner program, firm name/logo projected at the dinner
Visit www.massbar.org/AD20, call (617) 338-0543, or email aford@massbar.org for additional information.