Chief U.S. District Judge Patti Saris, GLS’69

Serving as the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for Massachusetts, Judge Patti B Saris, attributes a lot of her success to attending Girls Latin, the sister school of Boston Latin School. There, she became active on the debate team which her strengthened her argumentative skills and logical thought processes. 

After graduating Latin in ‘69, Judge Saris went on to Harvard College, where she received a degree in Bachelors of Arts. She initially wanted to pursue a career in journalism after writing for the Harvard Crimson on the women’s movement on campus. However, she developed a profound interest for law, and thus she took the law boards exam which placed her a spot in the class of 1976 at Harvard Law School. Saris was one of the very few women in her graduating class, making history along the way as a part of the “second wave” of females at HLS”. She soon became the first female clerk to work under Justice Braucher on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. 

Judge Saris’ Latin School affiliation landed her a job in Washington D.C. as a staffer in the U.S. Senate for Senator Edward M. Kennedy, whose father went to Boston Latin. She was able to work on a variety of legislative efforts to improve the function of our government, while focusing on regulatory reform. After returning to Massachusetts, Saris worked briefly in private practice, before joining the US attorney’s office in 1982. There she solely worked on civil lawsuits until she became a U.S. magistrate judge. It broadened her experience in criminal cases as well as intellectual property cases. 

In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed her to fill a vacated seat on the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts. Today Judge Saris continues to work in the U.S. District Court, and as of 2013 she was promoted to be the chief U.S. district judge for the District of Massachusetts.

Beyond the scope of being a federal judge, Chief Judge Saris was also chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission for six years. She developed a passion for criminal justice reform and has fought hard to pass legislation regarding those issues, in Congress.