Praise for Dean Leigh Ingalls Saufley, University of Maine School of Law

For the last nineteen years of a distinguished thirty year judicial career, Leigh Ingalls Saufley led the Judicial Branch as Chief Justice with creativity, compassion, and boundless energy. Her career has been predicated upon a deep and profound commitment to the cause of justice and service to the people of Maine. Chief Justice Saufley’s initiatives to improve and enhance the delivery of justice resulted in innumerable innovations and improvements within the court system. Her colleagues on the bench are greatly saddened by her departure, but heartened by the fact that she will lead one of Maine’s cherished institutions with the same commitment and zeal that characterized her historic years as Chief Justice.

Hon. Andrew M. Mead
Acting Chief Justice and Senior Associate Justice
Maine Supreme Judicial Court


More than two decades ago, I appointed Leigh Saufley as Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Court because I knew she would do a great job leading the courts – and she was so good at it that she got reappointed by the next two governors,” said Senator King. “Leigh is one of our state’s preeminent legal minds: incredibly smart, deeply knowledgeable about the law, and filled with endless energy and creativity. Oh, and did I mention she’s a Maine Law alum? There is no one better to educate the next generation of Maine lawyers than Leigh Saufley, and I’m thrilled to see her bring the same talent and dedication she brought to the bench to Maine Law.

Hon. Angus King
U.S. Senate


Chief Justice Saufley is a talented and inspiring leader who has earned the trust and respect of Maine’s policy makers. With her at the helm, Maine Law will be in extremely good hands. I remember being so impressed by Chief Justice Saufley from the first time I ever met her, back when I was a student at Maine Law more than a decade ago. The Chief is gifted at marshaling self-deprecating humor and flawlessly blending it with keen insight. This skill makes her an adept leader and will serve the Maine Law community well in the years to come.

Hon. Heather Sanborn
Maine State Senate
Co-Owner, Rising Tide Brewery, Portland, Maine
Maine Law Class of 2007


During her years on the Supreme Court Leigh has demonstrated her ability to resolve complex legal issues, to oversee the management of a large organization, and to serve as an effective spokesperson to the rest of State government, the people of Maine and the legal community.   Her broad judicial and administrative experience make her an exceptional person to lead the University of Maine School of Law in these times. The State of Maine, the University and its law students, both present and future, will be well served by her experience, her dedication, and her abilities.

Daniel E. Wathen, Esq.
Former Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court
Maine Law Class of 1965


Congratulations to Maine’s Chief Justice Leigh Saufley upon her appointment as Dean of the University of Maine School of Law. Justice Saufley is a highly respected jurist and inspiring leader, nationally and in Maine, and will bring her many talents to Maine’s public and only law school.  Maine Law stands out in the legal academy as a small school with expansive and meaningful impact. Justice Saufley will sustain and amplify Maine Law’s commitment to an excellent program of legal education, valuable research and scholarship, and deep engagement in serving the greater good.

Annmarie Levins
Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Law School Admissions Council
Former Associate General Counsel and General Manager, Microsoft


In selecting Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley as its new Dean, the University of Maine School of Law will be led by a woman of extraordinary talent and vision.  She is an accomplished jurist and, for many years, has been a leading figure among our nation’s State Supreme Court Chief Justices. 

Hon. Jon Levy
Chief U.S. District Judge


Chief Justice Saufley is a phenomenal leader for Maine Law.  She is a keen intellect and also kind, a born leader and a natural collaborator, a listener even as she is always moving ideas and plans forward.  Just as she led efforts to increase access to the courts for Mainers statewide and address issues like bail reform and justice for children and families, she will build out the many strengths of the Law School with eyes on Maine’s present and future needs.  The Law School has always been a gem in the State, and Chief Justice Saufley will bring people together to ensure it makes differences that matter locally, regionally and nationally.  

Mary Bonauto, Esq.
Civil Rights Project Director
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders


What a perfect arrangement:  A school poised to enhance its record of collaboration and innovation so important to our state;  and now a new Dean who has so well served as a collaborative and innovative leader of the state’s judiciary. I expect great success as Leigh Saufley embarks on this new phase of her remarkable and sustained  service to the State of Maine. 

Hon. Bill Kayatta
U.S. Circuit Judge


This is an historic moment for the University of Maine School of Law.  Chief Justice Saufley has been the leader of the Maine Judiciary for nearly two decades and she now brings her skills and prestige to lead the Law School.  She is well-respected and well-liked in Maine and nationally. She will now bring to Maine Law School the same intelligence, energy, hard work and vision that made her such a successful Chief Justice.  This is the best news imaginable for Maine Law School, the legal community in Maine, and the people of Maine.

Hon. John Woodcock
Senior U.S. District Judge


In our case conferences and at oral arguments, Chief Justice Saufley was always among the best prepared and most insightful in addressing challenging issues.  Her preparation and insight was demonstrated, despite her devoting many workdays to court administration, working with the Executive and Legislature on justice system issues, and engaging in outreach to improve government, bar, and public understanding of law and justice issues – all done with easy, to-the-point communication, and, where appropriate, good humor.  

Under her leadership, Court opinions published in a timely manner and were respected, even by those who disagreed with them; our relationship with the Executive and the Legislature became the best it has been in decades; efforts to improve access to justice and support for it were increased; most of our major practice and ethics rules were rewritten for the Twenty First Century; new or expanded courthouses were constructed bringing all courts and staff under one roof in facilities that are more secure and accommodating to the needs of the bar and the public; the Court encouraged engagement of Maine Law students and faculty in the work of the courts, particularly in service to and promotion of practice serving underserved communities; and the Court initiated an enthusiastically received program that has held more than 40 oral arguments in high schools, promoting greater student interest in and understanding of law and justice issues. 

Leigh I. Saufley becomes the Dean, joining the Law School with this history, now to apply her extraordinary work ethic, intuitive and committed understanding of law and public administration issues, and great communication skills to improve the Law School and public support for it; to encourage new students to attend – perhaps including some who, before college, had seen the high school oral arguments; to engage students and faculty in education to improve law and related services; and to have the Law School work with others to improve availability of important professional services in all parts of Maine.

With Dean Saufley, the future is bright for the Law School and for improved legal services across the State of Maine. 

Hon. Donald G. Alexander
Associate Justice, Maine Supreme Judicial Court (Retired)


The judiciary is fortunate to have had such a dynamic and thoughtful leader as Chief Justice Saufley. I have appreciated her perspective and our partnership on critical issues such as the opioid crisis, as well as our collaborative work to strengthen the judicial branch and improve the lives of Maine people. I have known Justice Saufley for thirty years and have practiced before her in the District Court, the Superior Court and the Law Court. At every level she has demonstrated legal acumen and common sense. While she will be missed on our highest court, her leadership and experience will be a significant asset to the University of Maine School of Law and the next generation of legal professionals in Maine. On behalf of the people of Maine, I thank Justice Saufley for her service to our state and offer my sincere congratulations on this well-deserved appointment.

Maine Governor Janet T. Mills
Maine Law Class of 1976


She is exactly the kind of person the law school needs right now. Everybody knows her. She’s going to be a star at attracting top-notch students. And, she’s going to inspire people to go to this law school.

Peter Mills
Executive Director, Maine Turnpike Authority
Maine Law Class of 1973
Bangor Daily News, April 8, 2020


[Chief Justice Saufley’s] career has been marked by an unflagging commitment to common sense justice and a deep love of Maine. I hired her out of law school and quickly promoted her to deputy not just because of her legal skills, but because of her keen judgment as to the realities of life in Maine for all of our citizens. She supervised everything from headline child abuse cases and to obscure complex Medicaid reimbursement matters. I most valued her ability to actually solve the problem — as opposed to just litigating about it — and in that skill she was unsurpassed. Those qualities are what will make her a great dean.

James Tierney
Lecturer, Harvard Law School
Former Maine Attorney General
Former Director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School
Maine Law Class of 1975
Bangor Daily News, April 8, 2020