Judith Gail Dein ’76 majored in American Studies at Union College before earning a J.D. from Boston College Law School. Now a United States Magistrate Judge, she sits in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston. Responsible for two summer programs at the Court, Judy oversees the Lindsay Fellowship Program for college students interested in law careers and the Nelson Fellowship Program for high school students from underserved Boston-area communities. Also involved in a number of Massachusetts, Boston and American Bar Associations groups, Judy helps run a book group affiliated with her synagogue and is a very amateur piano and tennis player. She also serves on the Union College Board of Trustees.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your career or volunteer activities?
As a Magistrate Judge I handle every type of civil case that is heard in federal court, either as a trial judge or as a mediator. I am also responsible for authorizing the use of investigatory tools in criminal investigations, such as search warrants, and for making bail and detention decisions. The diversity of the issues I am involved with, and the fact that each case is of great significance to the litigants, makes my career very challenging and rewarding. My involvement with the students in the summer programs at the Court has taught me a great deal and greatly enriched my life.
Who inspired and/or inspires you, professionally and personally?
The Union professors who inspired me the most intellectually were Stephen Berk, Robert Wells, David Potts and Nina Rosenblum, although many other professors were also important to me. I was inspired to be more involved with community and world events by Mark Smith (then the dean of students) and Professor Twitty Styles, among others. My work on Concordiensis and on various committees at Union definitely helped me develop into the person I am today.
What advice would you offer today's women students, not just at Union, but across the country?
Be yourself and listen to, but then feel free to ignore, all the advice you will get about how women should act/behave/look in order to succeed.
What was your most formative experience at Union?
At Union I had the incredible opportunity to study a broad range of subjects with excellent professors, meet people from all over and participate in a wide range of organizations. I was part of Concordiensis and the alternative newspaper the Campus Voice, the Women’s Caucus, the President’s Task Force on Race Relations, and the President’s Commission on the Status of Women. I also served as a head R.A. I made friends who have remained important to me for more than 40 years, not to mention meeting my husband (of 42 years) at Union. All of my years at Union were formative years and gave me the confidence to strive for what turned out to be an exciting and fulfilling career.