Chief Justice, Alaska Supreme Court
Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court Dana Fabe ’76 went to law school with an open mind about which type of law she wanted to practice. “I never had a specific game plan,” recalls Fabe. “The beauty of the co-op program is that you are able to sample different fields of law.”
With co-ops in law offices in Montana, Kentucky, Hawaii and Massachusetts, Fabe found her niche, choosing criminal defense and constitutional law. And, like many other Northeastern law students and graduates, she was drawn to the Alaskan frontier — in her case, for a post-graduate clerkship with the Alaska Supreme Court. After serving as chief public defender for Alaska, she was appointed to the trial bench and then as the first woman to sit on the state supreme court, over which she now presides as the court’s first female chief justice.
“You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do with your law degree as long as each choice you make seems intriguing and exciting, and you approach it with a sense of service,” advises Fabe. “Do that, and each step you take will put you on a path to work that you love.”
On her first co-op, Justice Fabe worked on cases involving environmental law, constitutional law and criminal defense.
Justice Fabe developed her second co-op, working on criminal defense matters in a murder case.
Justice Fabe twice served as a teaching assistant in the legal writing program and, during her third year of law school, assisted with Professor Steve Subrin’s first-year Civil Procedure course.
On co-op with legendary defense attorney Norman Zalkind, Justice Fabe honed her skills in the fields of criminal defense and constitutional law.
In Hawaii, Justice Fabe focused on complex criminal defense and civil rights litigation.
After her clerkship, Justice Fabe served as a staff attorney for the Alaska Public Defender Agency and was tapped in 1981 to be chief public defender for the state. She was appointed to the superior court bench in 1988, and has served the state judiciary ever since.
Prior to her appointment to the Alaska Supreme Court in 1996, Justice Fabe headed the Alaska Public Defender Agency. She is both the first woman to be appointed to Alaska’s highest court, and the court’s first female chief justice.