September 01, 2014

From the Bench: Four Judgeships

A federal appellate judge shares her life story and views.

Hon. Bernice Bouie Donald

I have held four judgeships in my life. I have been the first African American woman in each position, and I ran for the first when I was 30 years old. At the time, I had been practicing law for little more than three years, having worked my way through college and law school only to be told that, as a part-time student from a “not very good” law school, I did not fit the mold of the traditional lawyer. I was reminded then, as I often am now, of my mother’s time-tested counsel: “You are as good as anyone else and you are no better than anyone else.” And I resolved, in that moment, that no perceived lack of pedigree, nor anything else, was going to limit my goals or my aspirations.

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