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Lara Montecalvo ’00 to Speak at Commencement

Longtime public defender turned US Appeals Court judge has sought equal justice throughout her career.

First Circuit Judge Lara Montecalvo ’00. 

Lara E. Montecalvo ’00, a former public defender now serving on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, will be Boston College Law School’s 2024 commencement speaker. The event will be held May 24 at BC’s Conte Forum.

Montecalvo worked in the Rhode Island Public Defender’s Office from 2004-2022, the last two as its head. Her Senate confirmation to the First Circuit that year earned her the praise of Majority Whip and Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL). “Lara Montecalvo is a seasoned litigator with a demonstrated commitment to equal justice. Her career representing indigent defendants ensures that she appreciates the real world impact of judicial decision-making and demonstrates that she understands the importance of fairly applying the law to the facts,” Durbin said. “Her vast experience at both the trial and appellate level will make her an asset to the circuit court.”

According to news reports, her appointment also handed President Joe Biden the record for placing the most nominees with that kind of experience onto the circuit courts.

After receiving her JD magna cum laude from BC Law, Montecalvo began her career as a trial attorney in the Tax Division of the Department of Justice. She joined the Rhode Island Public Defender’s Office four years later as a trial attorney, eventually working her way to Assistant Public Defender and Chief of the Appellate Division before reaching the top job. She has been lauded for her pursuit of equal justice for all, for representing clients who could not afford an attorney, and for her effort to reduce the incarceration of women.

As fellow BC Law alum Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court William P. Robinson III ’75 said of Montecalvo’s work before his court: “She unfailingly impressed me with her knowledge of the pertinent facts and law, and she was always an ardent and eloquent advocate for her clients.  I am certain that she will for many years be a credit to the Court of Appeals.”

The First Circuit hears all federal appeals for Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico.