By William Tauro
Somerville native and Davis Square Tax Attorney Raymond Snow is a patient man. He waited 25 years to watch his daughter, Cynthia Snow-Murphy walk on stage at the Bank of America Pavilion last Sunday to receive her Juris Doctorate from Suffolk University Law School. “While I was studying for the bar exam,” mused the senior Snow, who himself is a graduate of Suffolk Law, “Cindy would sit quietly next to me at the end of my desk, practicing her writing and learning to spell. I knew that she would be the one to carry on the family tradition. I just had no idea that it would take this long!”
Cynthia, a recently retired Somerville Firefighter and a graduate of Somerville High School, put her higher education plans on hold while she raised her family. She struggled through many adversities and setbacks through her life, including a devastating bankruptcy. “I vowed after that that I would do my best to build a strong, secure flexible base to help insulate my family. I longed to get myself back to where I thought I was meant to be: to finish my education and become an attorney. But because of these hardships I thought it was out of my reach.”
That opportunity came in 2006 when her oldest son graduated high school. “I knew it was time. I had to try or I would always regret not doing so. My father had always told me that there was nothing I couldn’t do if I wanted it badly enough.”
Cynthia graduated Cum Laude from Suffolk University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and then was accepted into the Law School in 2008. She attended classes at night and throughout the summer while working full-time as a firefighter. “Altogether it’s been six long years, after raising a family, serving as a firefighter and paying for tuition, I have a far greater appreciation for this degree and the effort that so many working people put forth to attain something better for themselves and their family.” Cynthia’s position as a Somerville firefighter was shortened by a career ending injury in 2009. “It was a difficult obstacle to overcome. The Law School was wonderful in helping me with accommodations so that I could continue my studies.”
At Suffolk Law School, Cynthia received the Distinguished Oral Advocate Award, made the Dean’s list and served as an SJC Rule 3:03 Student Attorney for the Housing Clinic. She represented indigent clients in housing and related matters, participated in the Lawyer for the Day program at the Boston Housing Court and the Chelsea Bank Tenant’s collaborative where she volunteered her services to homeowner’s and tenants facing eviction from foreclosed properties.
Cynthia’s Doctoral Thesis was an analysis on the Alimony Reform Act, which went into effect on March 1, 2012 and reset the expectations for the length and amount of alimony awards. It was published by the Massachusetts Bar Association for their annual Family Law conference. Suffolk Law has referenced this analysis as part of their Continuing Legal Education program.
Last Saturday, May 19, Cynthia was awarded the distinguished Dean’s Public Citizen Award, which recognizes and rewards a graduating student who exemplifies the aspiration and the spirit of the Preamble to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. “A lawyer, as a member of the legal profession, is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having a special responsibility for the quality of justice.” Suffolk Law School Dean Nelson along with the faculty felt Cynthia best represented the criteria for the award, namely, a student who has demonstrated what is best about the legal profession: service, dedication, passion, conviction and generosity of spirit and who is the type of person who we would want to represent and counsel our loved ones when they are in need.
“I can’t thank the faculty at Suffolk Law enough for their passion and dedication to their students. This school cares very much about the success of their students. It was truly a first rate experience.” Mostly, however, she owes a debt of gratitude to her husband, Somerville Fire District Chief Dennis Murphy and her two boys, Somerville Firefighter Jay W. McKenzie and Timothy J. McKenzie for their unending support and patience and love in helping her achieve her goals.
“I truly believe that it is never too late to reach for your dreams. There is little that one can’t do if one wants it badly enough. No matter what twists and turns life throws your way, just hold on and keep your dream alive.”