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Judge Michael Chagares - 2017 Alumni Gala Honoree

The Honorable Michael Chagares ’87 to Receive the Distinguished Graduate Award at 2017 Alumni Gala


Seton Hall Law is pleased to bestow on The Honorable Michael Chagares ’87 the Distinguished Graduate Award, to be presented at the 2017 Alumni Gala. Judge Chagares has served as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit since 2006 and reflecting on his continued commitment to the Law School, has been an adjunct faculty member since 1991.

Judge Chagares credits a constitutional law course during his undergraduate studies at Gettysburg College for his interest in attending law school, and recalls Seton Hall Law as having “an excellent reputation as an educational institution, not to mention a terrific network in New Jersey.”

He graduated with honors and went on to clerk with The Honorable Morton I. Greenberg, U.S.C.J. Coming full circle, Judge Chagares now occupies the same seat Judge Greenberg previously held.

“I remember thinking when I clerked for Judge Greenberg, that this would be a wonderful job,” remembers Chagares.

Reflecting on his 30 years of making a vocation out of his career, Judge Chagares says, “I view law as a helping profession. Serving and representing the public has always been important to me. I enjoy being part of the greatest justice system in the world.”

Judge Chagares believes it is particularly important to encourage young lawyers and law students to pursue pro bono representations.

“Everyone wins when you take on a pro bono matter,” explains Chagares. “The indigent client gets a zealous advocate, and the attorney gains the opportunity both to help a person in need and to hone her skills.”

As the Chair of the Working Group on Immigrant Representation in New Jersey, he has worked closely with fellow Seton Hall Law professor, Lori Nessel, on improving representation of individuals in the immigration system.

Married to a fellow Seton Hall Law alumna Peggy Meade Chagares ’92, with whom they have four children, Judge Chagares is deeply moved by receiving this year’s Distinguished Graduate Award.

“Seton Hall Law School has been an important part of my life since I first walked through its doors in 1984,” says Chagares. “I feel incredibly honored to be recognized this way by this great institution, for which I have such gratitude and respect.”

Prior to taking the bench, Judge Chagares was a partner in the law firm of Cole, Schotz, Meisel, Forman & Leonard, P.A. He served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark from 1990-2004 and rose to Chief of the Civil Division in 1999. Judge Chagares has served on the boards of the Association of the Federal Bar, the New Jersey Lawyer Newspaper, the Historical Society of the U.S. District Court, and A Future With Hope. He is a former chair of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Federal Practice and Procedure Section. He is also the Chair of the Case Management/Electronic Case Files Subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference and is a member of the Appellate Rules Advisory Committee.