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UH law school professor Kamaile Turcan (left) moderated a student Q&A session with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor shared her decades of experience practicing law and serving on the bench, including in the country’s highest court, with students, faculty and staff at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law.

Sotomayor spent a day at the UH law school on January 31, as part of its Jurist-in-Residence program. She answered students’ questions, met with faculty and staff, and learned more about Hawaiʻi and legal issues and concerns pertinent to the state.

During a student Q&A session, Sotomayor answered questions on various topics such as judicial clerkships, the importance of diversity in law and her journey to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We are grateful to have spent so much time with Justice Sotomayor. This truly was a rare opportunity that our Richardson ʻohana had to interact directly with a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice,” said UH law school Dean Camille Nelson. “These interactions are significant, especially for our students. They gain valuable insight, such as how courts work, what it takes to work closely with judges as law clerks, and the importance of the legal system and civics.”

Holly Doyle, a third-year law student, participated in the session. She said the experience was memorable and loved how Sotomayor “wove together beautifully rich stories to offer nuanced answers to student questions.”

“I also learned a lot from her about empathy and the different roles empathy plays in the legal profession,” Doyle said. “We must understand, for example, that people are more than the worst thing they’ve ever done. And to be a powerful advocate, we have to know our adversary’s case better than they do, and that requires empathy.”

The program has brought U.S. Supreme Court justices to the school since 1987. Past participants have included Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Stephen G. Breyer and Anthony Kennedy. Sotomayor visited the UH law school for the first time as part of the program in 2012.

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