Fernande RV. Duffly
Distinguished Professor of the Practice
Harvard Law School, JD 1978
Professor Fernande (Nan) RV Duffly, retired justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, began her legal career in 1978 as an attorney in the litigation department of the Boston law firm then known as Warner and Stackpole (now K&L Gates). Just eight years later, she became the first female litigation partner and the first partner of color at the firm. She left private practice in 1992 after being appointed to the Probate and Family Court, where she served until 2000. She was then appointed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court and after over a decade on the Appeals Court, she was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court on February 1, 2011, by Governor Deval Patrick. A native of Indonesia, she was the first Asian American member of that court. She retired on July 12, 2016.
Professor Duffly has written articles and taught seminars on various subjects. She speaks frequently on topics related to ensuring access to justice, increasing diversity in the courts and advancing women and minorities in the profession. Professor Duffly has received numerous awards including the Distinguished Service Award from the Probate Judge’s Association; the Distinguished Jurist Award from the Massachusetts Association of Women Lawyers; and the Trailblazer Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. She has also been recognized as a Diversity Hero by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and was named a 2008 Woman of Justice, an award co-sponsored by Lawyers Weekly, the Women’s Bar Association and Massachusetts Association of Women Lawyers. In 2011, the ABA Business Law Section presented Justice Duffly with its annual award honoring a woman judge who has contributed to the advancement of women in the legal profession; in 2012 NAWJ bestowed on Justice Duffly its highest honor, named after founding member Joan Dempsey Klein.