NYer Of The Week: Judge La Tia Martin Helps Prepare Disadvantaged Students For Law Careers
Entering the high-powered legal world can be intimidating but this week's New Yorker is making it easier for young women from minority backgrounds to get a foot on the legal ladder. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
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La Tia Martin grew up with no professional role models but had the will to achieve anything. Today, Judge Martin is the role model she never knew for girls in the Bronx and beyond.
"When they walk into my court room and see me there, they have confidence. They see a person they can relate to, a person they believe, they will listen," she says. "For these young women to see me here as a role model, it's very important."
Growing up in public housing in Gun Hill, Martin envisioned a career in law as a way to help people.
"There were very few women that had positions of power some 30-plus years ago, when I really entered the profession," she says. "I thought it was my chance to give back to my community."
Times have changed but Judge Martin isn't seeing many young women like her follow her path. She decided to help change that. Three years ago, she started the Summer Justice Academy for Young Women.
"They're taught resume skills and dress skills, how to speak in public, how to shake one's hand, how to stand up for what they believe," she says. "The young women haven't had that one-to-one contact with lawyers and judges which I did not have growing up. You can see the confidence."
The two-week program for high school students from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds appears to be working.
"I have the chance to sit down and talk with other lawyers and judges who have already been there done that to get their perspective," said student Liana Billingy. "It's not every day you get a black woman who is now a judge. It's the fact that you're striving to reach that goal to make a difference in this world, to give back to your community. It means a lot."
So, for inspiring young women to take the leap into the legal world, Judge La Tia Martin is our New Yorker of the Week.
For more information on the program, you can email Joan Gaylord at Pace University's Law School at email@example.com.