Distinguished Professor John E. Fenton, Jr. has been a highly respected favorite among Suffolk Law School students for more than 40 years. His Evidence course fills quickly each fall, as word passes from one class to the next about his teaching excellence and wonderful sense of humor. Generations of students count his lectures among the highlights of their legal education.
When one takes the measure of a man, however, his worth cannot be summarized through an impressive resume or a singular talent. While Professor Fenton has these, they are among the many facets that together make him shine so brightly for those who know him.
Suffolk Law School Professor Clifford E. Elias, born and raised in the same town as Professor Fenton, as a close friend of his for 50 years, said, “I could write a book about him and the good work he has done for the community, the Law School and charitable organizations. It has been said the organizations are nothing more than the shadow of individuals and this is, indeed, true in John’s case. On a personal note, my life has been blessed with his friendship.”
Professor Fenton, a native of Lawrence, Massachusetts, graduated cum laude from the College of the Holy Cross in 1951. In 1954, he graduated from Boston College Law School. He earned an LLM from Harvard Law School in 1955.
Professor Fenton served as a first lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the US Army. When he completed his serve in 1957, he returned to Massachusetts and married Theresa A. Regan. He began to teach at Suffolk Law in 1957.
In 1974, Professor Fenton was appointed to the land court and became Chief Justice of that court in 1990. He served as Chief Justice for Administration and Management of the Massachusetts trial court from 1992 to 1994. After he left the judiciary he accepted the position of dean at Suffolk Law School. At the time he had 37 years of faculty service and was hailed by President J. Sargent as “a man who is ideally suited to lead the Law School.”
Those words were proven true as Professor Fenton, who served as dean until 1999, led the law school into a new era. He was an integral force behind the new Law School building on Tremont Street, a building which has set a national standard for the best in American legal education.
Said Dean Robert H. Smith, “John Fenton played an essential role in planning and development for Sargent Hall, bringing his keen vision to bear in a legal education setting for the twenty-first century.”
In 1999, John E. Fenton, Jr. was named Distinguished Professor of Law. Professor Fenton has received numerous Suffolk Law School awards, including the Outstanding Faulty Member Award from the Student Bar Association; the first Distinguished Service Award from the Suffolk University Law Review; and both a Special Recognition Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Suffolk University Law School Alumni Association.
In addition to his academic and professional accomplishments, Professor Fenton is known for his dedication to charitable and social service activities. He is chairman of the board of the Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, and a governor or Caritas Christi Health Care System.
We thank John E. Fenton, Jr. for his unwavering support to the community and look forward to his continued tenure here at Suffolk University Law School.