Wendy Wen Yun Chang Moderates Discussion With U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Wendy Wen Yun Chang, a Partner in the Los Angeles office of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, moderated a “Conversation with Justice Sonia Sotomayor” at the 2012 National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) annual convention on November 17, 2012. Her co-moderator was Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Justice Sotomayor discussed a wide range of topics during the conversation and electrified the rapt audience. Her comments included mentions of her father’s death — which left Justice Sotomayor’s single mother to raise her and her brother in the Bronx projects by working six days a week — and a childhood diagnosis of diabetes, which eliminated her original career goal to be a detective. Justice Sotomayor then explained the influence these events had on her goals and her approach to life by the time she left for Princeton University and then Yale Law School, at a time when there were few women, minorities, or students from her economic background attending those elite institutions.
Justice Sotomayor went on to describe the legal profession as she entered it in 1979, its evolution over the years, and challenges yet to be addressed. In a message that resonated with the audience, Justice Sotomayor expressed how it was not only possible, but necessary, to balance the gap between the world she came from and the one she now lives in, and why attendees should also work to achieve that two-world balance. Justice Sotomayor concluded the discussion by encouraging attendees not only to realize their full potential, but to recognize their commensurate duty to society to seize each opportunity that is offered to its fullest, and move the greater community forward.
Avanti D. Bakane, an attorney in Hinshaw’s Chicago office who attended the event, stated that Justice Sotomayor’s message “holds a powerful lesson that as we enter and live in a world where we are often still one of the minority, we can and should embrace this world without letting go of where we came from.” Reflecting on Justice Sotomayor’s message of how important it is to create a life where you love what you do, Jason J. Kim, a Partner in Hinshaw’s Los Angeles office who also attended the event, noted that he took away the message “If we complain about it, we do not love it enough.”