Chief Justice Roderick Ireland Shares Insights with Doctoral Cohort

Chief Justice Roderick Ireland leads a Doctorate in Law and Policy class in a discussion of two landmark cases on same-sex marriage decided by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Photo by Heratch Ekmekjian.

The newest cohort of Northeastern’s Doctorate in Law and Policy program recently welcomed a distinguished speaker to their classroom – Former Chief Justice Roderick Ireland of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Chief Justice Ireland is the Commonwealth’s highest ranking member of the judiciary and has managed a demanding career and challenging doctoral program simultaneously.

Justice Ireland led a Doctorate in Law and Policy (LPD) class by discussing two landmark cases on same-sex marriage decided by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. He also described his career that led him from a high school guidance counselor in Springfield, MA advising him against going to college because he “wouldn’t be able to do college-level work” to being named the Commonwealth’s chief justice of its constitutional court, interpreting a constitution that predates the U.S. Constitution.

For 35 years, throughout his career as an attorney and then judge, Justice Ireland has taught at Northeastern University’s School of Law and annually lectures in the LPD program. With the educational benefit in hand earned as a part-time professor of law, Justice Ireland told the class that he encouraged his family members to take courses at Northeastern, and then decided to pursue a PhD in Law, Policy and Society while serving on the bench.

For doctoral students starting a demanding academic program while maintaining professional and personal commitments, Justice Ireland provided advice to “keep your eyes on the prize, keep the momentum going, be thick-skinned, and don’t let life get in the way ” of completing the doctoral thesis. About completing a doctorate at 50, Justice Ireland said, “It was one of the best things I ever did.”

LPD students nodded in acknowledgment of Justice Ireland’s advice and took inspiration from his story.

January 2012 Cohort 5

Cohort 5 of the Law and Policy doctorate program brings together a diverse and talented group of doctoral students with backgrounds ranging from land use planning and economic development in a rural New England town to criminal investigation and security for two branches of the US government’s nuclear agencies. Students in Cohort 5 are currently responsible for business development at a local community health agency and for implementation of Federal regulations on “improving the education of the disadvantaged,” known as Title 1 programs. The class includes experts in network and information security and fraud management, higher education analysis, planning and strategy. Members of this Cohort have taught at the college and law school levels.

LPD students are responsible for environmental health and safety in a large biotechnology company, for enforcement of equal employment practices in a large Eastern city and leading a college’s early childhood initiative. Other members of the class include a high technology entrepreneur, an expert in dispute resolution for the federal government, an attorney with an agency serving individuals with autism and a leader in quality and patient safety for a group of hospitals.

“Cohort 5 is a very talented group, with a wide range of backgrounds. This will allow students to apply their experiences to the concepts they study throughout the program. I expect Cohort 5 to learn a tremendous amount from the curriculum, their doctoral thesis research, and one another,” said Daniel J. Urman, J.D., a faculty member and Director of the program.

Doctorate in Law and Policy

The LPD program is structured so that coursework and the doctoral thesis may be completed in two years. Classes meet one weekend per month in Boston, and the learning continues online throughout the rest of the month. The LPD program’s unique format encourages collaboration within and between cohorts. Every year, a committee chooses a select group of doctoral students are to begin the program. All students follow the same schedule through eight consecutive terms.

Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) is committed to providing career-focused educational programs that are designed to accommodate the complex lives of motivated learners. Offered in a variety of innovative formats, CPS courses are taught by accomplished scholars and practitioners who have real-world experience. The result is an educational experience founded on proven scholarship, strengthened with practical application, and sustained by academic excellence.

Northeastern University is a global university with a tradition of partnership and engagement that creates an innovative, distinctive approach to education and research. Northeastern integrates classroom studies with experiential learning opportunities in 70 countries, and pursues use-inspired research with a focus on global challenges in health, security, and sustainability.