Exemplar: Sonia Sotomayor

Continuing our recognition of outstanding women, today we spotlight Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She’s one of the Exemplars I profile in Old Money, New Woman, the latest book in the Old Money series, written especially for women. 

A native of the Bronx and a graduate of Yale Law School, my guess is she’s sharp as a tack and tough as nails. Happy Birthday, Your Honor.


How much do you know about Sonia Sotomayor? The daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, she is the third woman and the first Latina to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States.

At the age of 9, Justice Sotomayor’s father died, leaving her mother to raise her and her brother in the Bronx—a tough working-class neighborhood of New York City. Nevertheless, she graduated first in her high school class and attended Princeton University on full scholarship. She then attended Yale Law School on scholarship. In her third year, she filed a formal complaint against an established Washington, D.C., law firm for suggesting during a recruiting dinner that she was at Yale only because of affirmative action policies.  Refusing to be interviewed by the firm, she filed her complaint with a faculty–student tribunal, which ruled in her favor. Her action triggered a campus-wide debate, and news of the firm’s subsequent December 1978 apology made the Washington Post.

Justice Sotomayor pursued a career in private practice, but the bench called. She is the only woman to have been nominated to three different judicial positions by three different presidents, one Republican and two Democrats. 

If you think you may have a career in the legal profession, I encourage you to learn more about Justice Sonia Sotomayor. 

 “I do know one thing about me: I don’t measure myself by others’ expectations or let others define my worth.”  Sonia Sotomayor.


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