Susan Smith Blakely

Judge Mary Muse—- A True Inspiration

I was both amazed and inspired when I read an article about the recent passing of a beloved Massachusetts judge at the age of 94.  Positive role models are so important to career success, and they do not get much more positive than Judge Mary Muse.  What a life!  You will recall my last blog on women over fifty, well here is one woman over fifty who made every moment count and left an incredible legacy.

Mary Muse was a fierce advocate for women in the legal profession.  She knew the challenges well.  She raised four children during her years at Boston College Law, where she graduated in 1950, and three of those children were born when she was in law school.  About the challenges to women in the law, she said, "There are no barriers, just obstacles.  And obstacles are opportunities."

Judge Muse had seven more children after graduating from law school --- for the record, that totals eleven children --- and seven of those children followed their mother (and father) into the legal profession. Her daughter said that "every one of us felt like we were the only one in her eyes when we needed her."  One look at Judge Mary Muse's picture, and you can believe it.  The loving kindness leaps out at you from the photo.

She was 62 years old when she first was appointed to the bench, and she went to great lengths to encourage more women to become judges.  According to one contributor to the obituary, she spent years instilling the confidence in women to realize what they had to contribute.

A life like hers is hard to imagine.  Most of us have two or three children today and consider it a lifetime achievement to combine that with a career.  And it is.  But, if there was a superwoman, who paved the way for all of us, it had to be Mary Muse.  It does not diminish our own accomplishments to recognize that.

It is important to note that Judge Mary Muse also had a strong female role model.  Her mother was a physician when that was a rarity among women.  Dr. Mary Moore Beatty was the first woman to serve as a school physician in Boston and the first woman appointed as a trustee at Boston City Hospital.

Clearly, the apple did not fall far from the tree.

Susan Smith Blakely is the Founder of LegalPerspectives LLC and an award-winning, nationally-recognized author, speaker and consultant on issues related to young women lawyers, young women law students and young women interested in careers in the law.  She is author of Best Friends at the Bar:  What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers 2009), and Best Friends at the Bar:  The New Balance for Today's Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business 2012), which addresses the work-life struggle for women lawyers and includes twelve profiles of women who have successfully transitioned from one practice setting to another.  Her new book, Best Friends at the Bar:  Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers, will focus on the responsibilities of law firm leaders and will be released by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business in 2015.

Ms. Blakely frequently speaks at colleges and universities, law schools, law firms and law organizations, and she has been featured in media including the LA Daily Journal, National Jurist, Washington Examiner Newspaper, Forbes Woman, DC Spotlight, Daily Muse and Huffington Post Business.  Ms. Blakely also is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at conferences on women's issues and the law profession, and she has been a featured speaker at the US Department of Justice, Civil Division.  She is the recipient of the Ms. JD 2015 "Sharing Her Passion Award" for her work on behalf of women in the law.

Ms. Blakely graduated from the University of Wisconsin with distinction and from Georgetown University Law Center where she was a teaching fellow. She is a member of the CoachSource global network of leadership coaches and a career coach for the Indiana University Marshall Goldsmith Leadership Development and Executive Coaching Academy.   For more information, please visit

Write a comment

Please login to comment

Remember Me

Become a Member

FREE online community for women in the legal profession.



Subscribe to receive regular updates, news, and events from Ms. JD.

Connect with us

Follow or subscribe