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Former MA Justice Lowy visits UMass Lowell

(Photo courtesy of flickr) “Justice David Lowy being sworn in.”

Michael Makiej
Connector Staff

On Friday, April 12, 2024, a packed classroom of students waited in Coburn Hall for one of the school’s most exceptional guest speakers to date. Former Justice David Lowy of the Massachusetts State Supreme Judicial Court spoke with students about his life and career, followed by a Q&A and a catered lunch. 

Lowy has deep roots in Massachusetts. Growing up in Peabody and graduating from UMass Amherst, he went on to attend law school at Boston University, receiving his juris doctorate in 1987. He is both the first and only member of the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts to have received his undergraduate from the UMass system.  

After passing the BAR, the former justice worked as a law clerk for Judge Harrington in the Massachusetts Federal district court. A year later he was working at Goodwin and Proctor, a major multinational law firm based in Boston. He recounted several stories about different job interviews and unexpected opportunities which arose during his extensive career, including the SPLC and later as deputy legal counsel to then Governor Bill Weld. 

Lowy credits his hiring to his willingness to reach out and take risks. After repeated rejections and countless scheduling issues with the Governor’s office, Lowy took the initiative, going directly into Boston and waiting for hours in the lobby to try and secure an exclusive spot. His ambition was rewarded, and he worked under Governor Weld for five years. 

Had Lowy been unwilling to wait, he would not have met his future wife, Virginia Buckingham, who at the time was working as the Governor’s Deputy Press Secretary. They now have two children, both of whom are currently attending law school. 

In 1997 he was appointed by Governor Weld for his first judgeship at the Ipswich District Court, eventually working his way up to the highest court in Massachusetts in 2016. In that time, he presided over several famous cases, including Philip Chism, a Danvers student who killed his teacher.  

As a member of the Supreme Judicial court, Justice Lowy continued to oversee significant cases, such as a 2018 decision regarding opioid abuse and its impact on parole violation. 

During his time as a judge, he also had a career as an educator and law professor, teaching classes at New England Law, Suffolk Law, and Boston University Law. Now, after retiring from his judgeship in February of this year, Lowy is eager to share his wisdom with another generation of future lawyers. He advised his audience on the importance of mentorship, saying, “I would tell my law class, that they work for me for a year, and I work for them for the rest of my career. It is important to have a mentor, to find a mentor, and then to someday become a mentor.” The former judge wants to pay forward the many opportunities he was given because of his mentors, among which he named Judge Harrington. 

Currently, former Justice Lowy works as general counsel for the UMass President’s office, overseeing legal affairs for the entire UMass university system. It was this new connection which was able to help bring him to UMass Lowell for this event. 

To close out his talk, Lowy stressed the importance of preparation as the most essential aspect of a good lawyer. “If you want to know the three most important things about being a great lawyer. Number One. Preparation. Number Two. Preparation. Number Three. Preparation. You have got to want it, you have got to be hungry,” he said.  

Associate professor of Legal Studies, Walter Toomey, said he was happy that so many students with legal aspirations were able to have this experience to cap off the end of their semester.  “He’s obviously a prestigious figure in the Commonwealth so its wonderful to give our students here studying, legal studies, criminal justice and other law related fields, the opportunity to hear from people like him.” 

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