Many womxn of color attorneys experience the uncomfortable moment when others doubt their credentials as legal professionals based on their race and gender. This may occur in the outright statement, “You don’t look like an attorney” or more subtle actions, such as mistaking a womxn of color attorney for being the court translator or assuming she is the assistant.
In Sociology Professor Tsedale M. Melaku’s book, You Don’t Look Like a Lawyer, and accompanying article, she delves into the visible and invisible labor womxn of color attorneys perform in the legal profession. Professor Melaku highlights the experience of Black female attorneys pushing back against the “you-don’t-look-like-a-lawyer” mentality and the legal profession’s continuing struggle to create systemic diversity and inclusion.
For Women’s History Month, NWOCC is celebrating the accomplishments of womxn of color and showcasing that we not only look like attorneys, but we also look like judges.
Judge Manpreet Monica Singh
Judge Manpreet Monica Singh is the first female Sikh judge in the United States. She serves as a judge in Harris County in Texas and was sworn-in in January 2023. Judge Singh, a Houston native, worked as a trial attorney for 20 years prior to her tenure on the bench. She was active in civil rights issues in her community and educating others about the Sikh community.
Justice Patricia Guerrero
Justice Patricia Guerrero is the first Latina judge on the California Supreme Court and now serves as Chief Justice. Justice Guerrero grew up in the Imperial Valley and is the daughter of Mexican immigrant parents. Prior to the California Supreme Court, Justice Guerrero served as a judge on the San Diego Superior Court and later the Fourth District Court of Appeal. She was also a partner at Latham and Watkins before her judgeship tenures.
Judge Lucy Haeran Koh
Judge Lucy Haeran Koh is the first Korean American woman to serve on a federal appellate court as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She is one of three Asian-American women to serve on any U.S. Circuit Court. Judge Koh also served on the Northern District Court in California, often presiding over leading technology cases. Prior to her tenure as a judge, she was a partner at several big law firms specializing in intellectual property and commercial litigation.
By: Kewa Jiang