“There’s More Beyond the Billable Hour”: PILP Meets with Chief Justice Ronquillo

Chief Justice Roberto Ronquillo

Chief Justice Roberto Ronquillo talks judicial responsibility with PILPers.

The PILP class welcomed Chief Justice Roberto Ronquillo of the Boston Municipal Court (BMC) to its meeting last week. There’s no doubt about it, Chief Justice Ronquillo is incredibly impressive. Appointed in January 2014, Chief Justice Ronquillo oversees the eight divisions of the BMC, 30 judges, and over 500 employees. The BMC houses a variety of specialty courts, including four drug courts, three mental health courts, Veterans’ treatment court, and homeless court.

Chief Justice Ronquillo earned his undergraduate degree in criminal justice at the University of Texas at El Paso and moved to Boston to attend New England School of Law | Boston. After graduating from NESL, Chief Justice Ronquillo served as an Assistant District Attorney in Suffolk County and then ran his own law firm. In 2001, he was appointed to the bench, and in 2007, Chief Justice Ronquillo was named First Justice.

The PILPers used this meeting to ask questions ranging from how Chief Justice Ronquillo balances his judicial and administrative responsibilities to what the Chief’s sentencing philosophy is and everything in between. Throughout his Q&A and stories, Chief Justice Ronquillo emphasized the important role of specialty courts within the BMC. He believes that the specialty courts show a change in how we approach the legal process. Within the specialty courts, there is a particular focus on how to serve and support a community with stability, encouragement, and respect.

After meeting with Chief Justice Ronquillo, Elianna Nuzum, PILP class member and Assistant District Attorney at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, said:

“Chief Justice Ronquillo was particularly inspiring when he spoke about the individuals whose lives were changed, and put back on track, after addressing their challenges — and their criminal cases — through the specialty courts such as homeless court, drug court, and veterans’ court.  He pressed the importance of respect for each individual, and coming up with creative ways to help get people out of situations that are likely to cause recidivism.”

 Chief Justice Ronquillo concluded the meeting by reminding the PILPers that lawyers have a tremendous responsibility to their clients, that clients deserve your respect and time, and that “there’s more beyond the billable hour.”