The line snaking around the block said it all—as it was full of students buzzing about the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. And, the evening didn’t disappoint. The Justice divulged information on her background, her family, her job, and even gave some advice to students—leaving many in the audience feeling grateful, and inspired.
In a question and answer format, the Justice offered words of wisdom to the packed Moot Court Room.
“Too many law students spend an awful lot of time thinking about what their next step in their career is going to be,” she said.
“Worry a little less. In the end, find some form of work that satisfies you, that makes you feel good about what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter what kind of law you practice. Just make sure that it appeals to some part of your personality—whether it’s intellectually, emotionally, spiritually.”
Justice Sotomayor visited Cardozo on October 22, 2012, to answer questions in front of students from Judge Alison Nathan, U.S. District Court Judge of the Southern District of New York. The event transpired after the Justice met Dean Matthew Diller during the confirmation hearing of Judge Nathan. As she makes a point of connecting with students as much as possible, she accepted the invitation to visit.
Yeshiva University President Richard Joel and Dean Diller delivered introductory remarks. Then the Justice answered questions submitted by students, in which she gave a hint of what it is like to be a Supreme Court Justice.
“The day is spent reading briefs for the next sitting, reading memos for those sittings that my law clerks have prepared, reading cases that have been cited in the briefs I’m reading, reading memos for draft opinions and reading memos from my colleagues,” she said.
“I’m also drafting my own opinion. I’m constantly reading, writing and researching…I’m doing a little bit of all at some time.”
Justice Sotomayor also spoke on personal topics, telling the audience that she is still not used to the public recognition she receives on a daily basis as a result of her job. In addition, she touched on the obstacles she has faced as a woman of color.
“Most of the time, we’re taught to feel insecure, to feel incompetent, “ she said.
“The hardest thing that we have to do as women of color and men of color is to deal with our fears—not to let our fears stop us from reaching further than we imagine. We have to be willing to take lots of risks—like saying yes to the President and becoming a Supreme Court Justice, even if you’re terrified.”
The event was followed by a reception, where Justice Sotomayor made a point of meeting and speaking with as many students as possible. She joins a list of Supreme Court Justices who have visited Cardozo in recent years, including Justices Stephen Breyer, Sandra Day O’Connor, and John Paul Stevens.