A Tribute to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Traci Lovitt, who leads the Firm's Issues & Appeals Practice, clerked for the late Justice Sandra Day O'Connor after graduating from law school and wrote a tribute to her upon hearing of her passing. Read her thoughts below and watch her interview with CNN.

Sandra Day O'connor

When it comes to "firsts," there is no one like the late Justice Sandra Day O'Connor—the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1981, the year she was nominated to the Court and confirmed, the legal profession was far different than it is today. According to the American Bar Association, only 8% of U.S. lawyers were women in 1980. To call women "underrepresented" would be a serious understatement. In that atmosphere, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor rose to the most important and influential position in the U.S. legal profession. Like Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson's recent swearing-in, it was a nationwide moment of optimism and hope.  

After graduating from law school, I was lucky to clerk for Justice O'Connor. She made me a better lawyer, teaching me how to think through legal problems and how to draft legal arguments. But more importantly, she demonstrated how to be a better person. 

Upon hearing of Justice O'Connor's passing, I wrote a tribute to "the first," published on December 1 on I hope you find solace in Justice O'Connor's impact and her grace.

Read the piece on What I owe to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Reprinted with permission from the December 1, 2023 posting on © 2023 Cable News Network. A Warner Bros. Discovery Company. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.