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Mary K. Ryan is Senior Of Counsel in Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP's Litigation Department and a member of the Development, Land Use and Permitting practice group. Mary’s practice includes substantial trial and appellate cases in the state and federal courts, particularly in environmental litigation, as well as administrative hearings and proceedings.

Mary has significant expertise in federal and state hazardous waste litigation, including CERCLA and Ch. 21E (federal and state Superfund) cases and related insurance coverage issues, as well as various land use issues. She was one of the lead trial counsel for AVX Corporation in the New Bedford Harbor PCB litigation and lead counsel in several related matters. In 1997, Mary was appointed a special assistant attorney general representing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the Ruggles Center indoor air pollution litigation. She has handled environmental matters for companies such as ConocoPhillips, Whittaker Corporation, Applied Power, Inc., and the Resolution Trust Corporation, as well as for the City of Boston and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. She previously served as environmental counsel for the South Shore Tri-Town Development Corporation in connection with the redevelopment of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station into a smart growth, mixed use community.

Among her numerous leadership positions in the bar, Mary has served as president of the Boston Bar Association (BBA) in 1997-1998. She is a former clerk and board member of the Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts, and was the founding co-chair of its Environmental Committee. She served as president of the Women's Bar Association of Massachusetts and chaired the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) from 1999-2011. She is currently a member of the SJC’s Access to Justice Commission. Mary was a Director of the Environmental Business Council of New England for over 25 years, serving as Clerk for much of that time.

Mary is also an active member of the American Bar Association (ABA), currently serving on the Board of Governors and as a member of the ABA House of Delegates, and previously on the ABA Commission on Immigration. From August 2014 to August 2019, Mary was co-chair of the ABA’s Working Group on Unaccompanied Minor Immigrants, a presidential initiative to provide more pro bono assistance to children in the immigration system without lawyers. She is a past chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service and the ABA Standing Committee on Delivery of Legal Services, a past member of the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants and has been active with the ABA Litigation Section’s Environmental Litigation Committee.

Mary is a fellow in the American College of Environmental Lawyers. A frequent lecturer and writer on hazardous waste and environmental litigation issues, Mary was a faculty member of the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc.’s Annual Environmental and Land Use Conference from 2008 to 2014 and 2015 to 2018, focusing on environmental permitting litigation.

During law school, Mary was a member of the Order of the Coif. Upon graduation from law school, she served as law clerk and then chief law clerk to the Justices of the Superior Court of Massachusetts and as law clerk to the Honorable Ruth I. Abrams, former associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.


Mary K. Ryan was presented with the award at a luncheon on Saturday, August 5, 2023 at the Embassy Suites Downtown Denver as part of the ABA 2023 Annual Meeting in Denver, CO. View the 2023 program.


  • Nutter
  • ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service
  • WilmerHale
  • Law Offices of Marvin S.C. Dang, LLLC
  • Past and Present Members of The Massachusetts Delegation to the ABA House of Delegates
  • James L. Schwartz
  • Richard M. Leslie


The John H. Pickering Achievement Award is co-sponsored by the ABA Senior Lawyers Division, Commission on Law and AgingSection of Civil Rights and Social JusticeStanding Committee on Pro Bono and Public ServiceStanding Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants.