Susan Beck was born Susan Schwarz on April 15, 1942, in. New York City. In 1960, she entered Wellesley College, from which she graduated (as a Phi Beta Kappa) in 1964. In 1975, she decided to go to law school and entered Harvard Law School. Juggling child-raising responsibilities with course work, and with being a research assistant for Professor Derrick Bell, she received her Juris Doctor, cum laude, in 1978.
After a brief stint with Greater Boston Legal Services, she joined the Ward Commission (also known as the Special Commission Concerning State and County Buildings) as associate counsel. From 1981 to 1983, she worked as a staff attorney at the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. She spent the next four years as an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County. In 1987, she became an assistant attorney general in the public integrity division, investigating and prosecuting public corruption cases. In 1990, she was named director of investigations for the Registry of Motor Vehicles. In 1991, she was appointed general counsel of the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, a position she held for the next six years.
In 1997, Governor Paul Cellucci appointed Susan Beck to the Appeals Court. She joined the Court on November 25, 1997 and served as Associate Justice for the next nine years until illness forced her retirement on October 31, 2006. She passed away on March 7, 2009, at the age of sixty-six. In addition to her husband, Dr. James Beck, she left their daughters, Deborah and Emily.
The Appeals Court's Memorial to Justice Beck may be found at 76 Mass. App. Ct. 1139 (2010).