SOL Magazine Spring 2023

society today—if people disagree with you, you’re not misguided, you’re evil. We have to have a successful democracy—we can’t have people interacting in such a toxic manner.” St. Thomas is training people who care about the community, and people who care about those who haven’t had the same opportunities, she said. “They’re training people who can learn to get along with people who don’t have the same opinions as they do.” All that, Chutich said, means the school’s mission is more relevant than ever.

Chutich said, many of her mentees were young Black women and she appreciated the opportunity to talk to them about racial issues frankly and directly. She has also had some LGBTQ+ students as mentees, she said, “and I think they see me as a sign that they’re not going to be excluded from the highest levels of law at the state of Minnesota just because of their sexual orientation.” “I have always appreciated Catholic social justice efforts: helping the poor, feeding the hungry, all of those parts really appeal to me, and I like that the law school is really emphasizing the full development of people,” Chutich said. “I really resonate with the mission of the school,” she said. “It’s for the common good. It’s not just about

trying to learn to be the best litigator that you can be, it’s about using your skills to help people.” Still, when Justice Chutich was asked to join the law school’s Board of Governors in 2018, she felt some hesitation, given some of the Catholic Church’s past statements on gay people. But a lesbian friend who had served on the board before her assured her it was a welcoming environment, and Chutich said she has found that to be true. “There is a diversity of intellectual thought there, that I think, frankly, is a good thing for law students to see.” As with the court, “It’s about modeling how to have different viewpoints in a collegial fashion, or at least a civilized fashion. That’s really a dangerous thing in our

difficult, Chutich said, but going forward, she aims “to love others in my life as best as I can, to honor her spirit.” Chutich is one of four women justices on the Minnesota Supreme Court—a female majority. Though the seven justices bring different life experiences to the court, Chutich said the state’s highest court remains a haven of civility, even at a time of deep political divisions. “There is a real esprit de corps here, and I think for the most part we agree to disagree without being disagreeable, which is really important.” Justice Chutich has two recent St. Thomas Law graduates clerking for her this term— Megan Massie ’22 J.D. and Mary Clare Mulcahy ’22 J.D . Massie said she’s been

impressed with the way the justice prioritizes writing her opinions in a way that the general public can understand, noting “she’s always thinking about the impact she will have.” Mulcahy added that Justice Chutich is a great role model in many respects, including her dedication to self-care: “I get outside and exercise every day, and I can do that because my boss prioritizes it.” Chutich first became involved with St. Thomas through Judge Murphy, who was instrumental in the reopening of the law school in 2001. She introduced Chutich to Lisa Montpetit Brabbit, associate dean for external relations, who in turn recruited Chutich for the Mentor Externship Program.

“Justice Chutich is what I would call a professional exemplar,” Brabbit said, “not just for the way she does her job, but for who she is as a person.” Rob Vischer, former dean of the law school and now president of the University of St. Thomas, added “she is an exceptionally kind and caring person. She models for our students

the fact that you can occupy a position of prominence and

power without compromising your commitment to affirming the dignity of every person you encounter.” For her part, Chutich said she gets a lot out of her encounters with her mentees: “They’re really enthusiastic and I find that invigorating, to get to know young people who have a desire to change the world.” Early on,

Page 16 St. Thomas Lawyer

Spring 2023 Page 17

Powered by