The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court has subjected her to an in-depth review of her past working relationships. Well aware that she is facing more criticism of her demeanor than male judges, she shares the following story about a former co-worker’s stressful reaction to her.
Sonia Sotomayor was in her 30s and not yet a judge when she noticed that a paralegal at the law firm where she worked broke out in hives whenever she entered Sotomayor’s office. After six months, they laughed about it.”‘I don’t know what was wrong with me, but it took me six months to realize that you don’t bite,'” Sotomayor recalled the paralegal telling her.” But her reaction was not uncommon and it is unfortunately the reaction of many people who don’t get to know me immediately in a social setting. But they can get over it, fortunately,” Sotomayor acknowledged.The encounter offered clues to the complex temperament of the Supreme Court justice-in-waiting.
In a 1998 interview with The Associated Press, Sotomayor acknowledged her personality can intimidate those who misunderstand her.”When I’m working in particular, I’m extraordinarily focused and people get intimidated by that focus and intensity I bring to the interaction,” she said. “And it takes people a little bit of time to realize that I’m not forbidding, that I actually am fun-loving, very open and very human.” The Associated Press
Would a male judge’s intensity be scrutinized, and even criticized, so closely? I’ve been supervised by plenty of intense attorneys, male and female, whose high standards and expectations of themselves and their staff could be intimidating, and sometimes even anxiety-triggering. I learned that being well-prepared was the best antidote to meeting my fears – imagined or otherwise.