Lisa Stark, Business Law Today editor-in-chief: Judge Montgomery-Reeves, you have been hailed as a trailblazer—the first-ever African American to serve as a Vice Chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery as well as the first African American associate justice and the youngest jurist to sit on the Delaware Supreme Court. You recently started a new position as a federal judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, having been nominated by President Biden, in June 2022.
What have been the key drivers of these tremendous accomplishments?
Judge Tamika Montgomery-Reeves: The two main reasons for my career accomplishments are sponsorship and timing. As I have said before, no one gets very far alone in life. I am here because I stand on the shoulders of giants. Many people came before me, in Delaware and on the federal bench, and those people paved the way for me to follow. I also have been extremely fortunate to have people, like former Chancellor William B. Chandler III, who not only mentored me but sponsored me during my career. Finally, I think it is important to put your name in the hat and to take chances on yourself, even if the timing and circumstances are not exactly what you had planned.
Lisa: Did you always want to be a judge?
Judge Montgomery-Reeves: I knew I wanted to be a lawyer in elementary school. I first developed an interest in the law from my grandmother. She grew up in Mississippi, and while she was not highly educated, she talked to me all the time about the importance of the law and knowing your rights. She talked to me about the inequities she witnessed growing up in Mississippi in the 1930s and 1940s, and she influenced me to pursue the study of law.