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Hearsay: Talking about BC Law

Q&A with Joan Lukey ’74.


The practice group leader for complex trial and appellate litigation at Choate Hall & Stewart, and an avid kayaker, Joan Lukey reflects on law, legacy, and leadership. 

What’s memorable about your time as a law student in the early 1970s? When I was a student, it was a time of big change at the Law School. The Class of 1974 was the first that had a substantial number of women—at 22 to 24 percent—whereas in the classes before us, we were told, the number was closer to 5 percent. We were also the last class to be in the former Law School building, St. Thomas More Hall, on the main campus, where there were no dedicated women’s restrooms! I actually have a brick from the former building, which was a gift given at one of our reunions to donors at a certain level.

Which BC Law professors made the biggest impact on you? I’ll never forget James Houghteling, who taught a civil procedure course, and Jimmy Smith, my torts professor. Mary Ann Glendon is quite special, and we were fortunate to have her before she went to teach at Harvard Law. Tom Carey ’65 led moot court. The team went to the Nationals when I was on it. At 24 years old, I was the first woman to win best oralist in the moot court competition. Since then, many women have won. I’ve also judged the event over the years.

What led you to make a bequest to BC Law? I’ve always felt that if you have the capacity, it’s good to support the causes you care about or that align with your values. Access to education has always been important to me. After my father died, I established an endowed scholarship at the Law School in his name. I increased it and added my mother’s name to the scholarship following her death in 2010. A bequest was the next step for me at a time when I was already quite active with BC Law as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board. Adding a bequest to BC Law was easy to do. I worked with my estate attorney to set aside a certain amount in my will, and he worked with BC’s Office of Gift Planning.

What do you do in your spare time? My career and my family are a big part of my life, but so is kayaking. During the pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of time on the water, and last summer I ordered a high-intensity wetsuit so I could extend the kayak season into late fall. One morning in November 2021 when I came back to shore, it was only 40 degrees!

Joan’s decision to include BC Law in her will allows us to celebrate her generosity during her lifetime through membership in the Shaw Society. To learn more, please visit or contact the Office of Gift Planning at 877-304-SHAW or