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Document Type

Symposium Article

Abstract

Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants was more than just a lauded member of the Massachusetts state judiciary. He was a mentor, a confidant, a friend. Gavin Alexander, one of Chief Justice Gants’s former Law Clerks, writes in deeply personal terms about the incredible kindness, empathy, and pure humanity that defined the late Chief Justice. Alexander, through the narrative of his journey coping with depression and eventually becoming a public advocate for mental health and diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession, emphasizes the marked impact Chief Justice Gants had on his life and the lives of so many other lawyers experiencing similar struggles. Beyond his individual story, Alexander describes how, under Chief Justice Gants’s leadership, the Supreme Judicial Court created its initial Steering Committee on Lawyer Well-Being in 2018 and its more permanent Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being in January 2020. As the Committee’s first Fellow, Alexander describes how the Committee strives to improve lawyer well-being in Massachusetts by breaking down the stigma against discussing mental health issues and seeking help, by educating the Massachusetts legal profession about topics and resources relating to well-being, and by advocating for systemic change to make the Massachusetts legal profession more rewarding, sustainable, and inclusive. This critical work, which continues today, carries on Chief Justice Gants’s legacy, and challenges Massachusetts lawyers to embody and advocate for the kindness, empathy, and desire for equitable justice that Chief Justice Gants exhibited his entire life.

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