Dartmouth, MA (October 31, 2013) -- Today, University of Massachusetts School of Law at Dartmouth (UMass Law) Dean Mary Lu Bilek was honored at the 6th annual Top Women of Law in Boston sponsored by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. This annual event recognizes the accomplishments of women lawyers in the areas of private practice, the corporate arena, and social advocacy. Dean Bilek was recognized for her commitment to social advocacy and access to justice through her performance in the area of public legal education.
"Providing access to legal education for students from communities who are under-represented in the profession has been my life's mission," noted Dean Bilek. "In my role as Dean of UMass Law, I continue to carry the strong belief that we have a special obligation to be a steward of justice, and to be about advancing the quality of justice through the work our students do and the scholarship our faculty does."
Since joining UMass Law in July 2012, Dean Bilek has focused on expanding the role of the school in the community with increased pro bono hours, an increased commitment to public service by the students and an expansion of clinic opportunities. Additionally, she has successfully increased diversity at the school building upon the university's commitment to ensuring access to an affordable legal education for students who hope to pursue justice and serve others through the practice of law. Due in part to these efforts, UMass Law was recently recognized as one of the Top 5 Regional Law School for Black Students by Lawyers of Color.
Dean Bilek is very active at a national level in the area of legal education. She regularly serves as an accreditation Site Visit Team member for the ABA. She is a 2007 Fellow of the National Institute for Teaching Ethics and Professionalism and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice and FairTest. She Chaired the ABA Section on Legal Education and Diversity Committee in 2010-2011 and is a member of its Special Committee on the Professional Education Continuum. She also serves on the Society of American Law Teachers Committee on (RE) Visioning Legal Education.
Dean Bilek has dedicated nearly her entire professional career to legal education and social justice and access to justice issues. A graduate of St. Mary's College and Harvard Law School, Dean Bilek practiced law for 5 years in New York City prior to joining the faculty at CUNY law school. At CUNY she was the long time Academic Dean and in this position she played a leadership role in numerous innovative educational initiatives and helped move the school towards full ABA and AALS accreditation.
Ann Marie Maguire, founder of Keches Law Group's Medical Malpractice Department, was also honored today. Ms. Maguire's experience in the legal profession spans 30+ years, with a career emphasis on representing victims and families in catastrophic personal injury cases. Ms. Maguire has been honored by the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys by being invited to serve as a member of the Board of Governors and the Executive Committee. She was appointed by the Governor to serve as a member of the Governor's Judicial Nominating Committee on a statewide basis. She is also past President of the corporation and member of the Board of Trustees of Southern New England School of Law, now known as UMass Law. She was an active participant in the battle to create a public law school so that those who cannot afford a legal education in Massachusetts have access.
UMass Law is the only public law school in Massachusetts and was established in 2010. It is conveniently located 30 miles from Providence, RI, and 60 miles from Boston, MA. UMass Law is committed to ensuring access to an affordable legal education for students who hope to pursue justice and serve others through the practice of law.