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BA, Brandeis University

JD, University of California-San Francisco
MFA, Iowa Writers’ Workshop

color portrait of Anne O'Reilly looking into the camera against a black background


Anne O’Reilly received a Masters in Fine Arts in Fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The Workshop is the most competitive fiction program in the country, with an acceptance rate of under 3%.  

While at Iowa, she studied with James Alan McPherson (Pulitzer Prize/Fiction “Elbow Room”), Marilynne Robinson (Pulitzer Prize/Fiction “Gilead”), Elizabeth McCracken (“The Giant’s House,” “The Hero of this Book”) and Adam Haslett (“You Are Not a Stranger Here” and “Union Atlantic”).

She is also an attorney who has represented indigent defendants in the appeals of their criminal convictions for over twenty years. The issues she addresses in her legal advocacy are the same that are in the forefront of the news today -- racially-based traffic stops, search warrants, drug possession, and other convictions stemming from the over-policing of minorities and the poor.

In one of her cases, after police entered the defendant’s residence without a warrant, he was convicted of a few felonies, including drug possession. She wrote the brief and argued the case before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which reversed the convictions.

The Chief Justice of the Court, Margaret Marshall, wrote the opinion for a unanimous court, and the case has been cited over 200 times in case law, law review articles and treatises. See Commonwealth v. Tyree, 455 Mass. 676 (2010).

The very first brief she wrote also won before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. While involved in divorce proceedings, a woman filed for a restraining order against her husband, who retaliated by filing several claims against her in court.

As a result of the arguments she set forth in the brief, the Court extended the anti-SLAPP statute (strategic lawsuits against public participation) to victims who file restraining orders. See McLarnon v. Jokisch, 431 Mass. 343 (2000).

She won The New Yorker cartoon caption contest, captioning a cartoon by Gahan Wilson.  

Anne O’Reilly has written a book of short stories (“The Flood”) and essays, and is currently working on a novel based on a murder conviction that forms the basis of a seminal decision of the United States Supreme Court.




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