Women Justices Speak Out: On Mentoring, Leadership, and Effective Advocacy


Judges give their insights into effective briefing and oral argument and talk about the mentors who made a difference in their careers. Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice, California Supreme Court (2011–present)

Q: What is the one thing you wish lawyers appearing before you would do that would help you and your colleagues decide cases?

Be prepared. We absolutely rely on cogent, well-written briefs and well articulated oral arguments to help guide our decision making.

Q: Would you say you ever had a mentor or sponsor who made a genuine difference in how your career turned out? If so, please tell us a little bit about that.

Being a Filipina, I grew up in a very matriarchal society—the “aunties” set the rules and enforced the law. Embarking on a career in the justice system meant entering a (at that time) very patriarchal society—women, and particularly ethnic women, were very much in the minority and the exception to the rule. But rules and social norms can change and evolve with a little bit of push and pull.

Originally published in The Woman Advocate - ABA Litigation Section on March 26, 2014.

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