During the month of March, we celebrate and honor the contributions of women to history culture and society. As part of this celebration, the Business Law Section has decided to spotlight a few of the extraordinary women who serve as judges, including the accomplished Judge Mindy Mora. Judge Mora is a legal trailblazer, dedicated family member and mentor, in equal measure.
Judge Mora was appointed as a Bankruptcy Judge to serve the Southern District of Florida on April 6, 2018. She is the second woman to be selected to serve in this capacity. Prior to serving in this capacity, she was a Partner with Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price and Axelrod LLP from September 1, 2000 to April 5, 2018 and a Partner with Strook and Strook and Lavan LLP from December 27, 1986 to August 31, 2000. Although there were no female judges or partners when Judge Mora began her career, she attained these milestones through dedication, hard work – while practicing she regularly billed sixty to eighty hours a week, and pushing herself beyond her comfort zone to overcome the fears that she refused to allow to hold her back.
Judge Mora is an eloquent and polished woman but she shares that these traits are the result of her hard work and perseverance. It was shocking to hear that she struggled with a fear of public speaking as a young attorney because today she commands the room. Judge Mora emphasized that a person can change if they truly want to. To overcome her fear, she worked on her voice, volunteered for activities with the Business Law Section that required public speaking, and spent hours practicing arguments until public speaking became more natural. What is most impressive is that her impetus for overcoming her fears was not simply self-serving but she desired to be the best advocate possible for her clients. Judge Mora explained that “It is a young lawyer’s responsibility to get out of themselves, to refuse to let anything hold them back and to always remember why you are in the room – to be the voice of your client.”
To list Judge Mora’s legal achievements while omitting her marriage of thirty-two years with the love of her life, Hernando Mora, would be a disservice. Together, they have raised two successful young men and Judge Mora’s eyes sparkle when she talks about her family. For those of us currently overwhelmed with attempting to balance the responsibilities of a legal career and young family, Judge Mora says to take it day by day, do the best with what’s right in front of you, go with your gut instincts and be your best self. When I asked her why she wanted to be a judge, she indicated that she was strongly encouraged by her colleagues but that she also wanted more time with her family. As much as she truly loved being an attorney, it is clear that she is enjoying being a judge and the extra time with her family.
As a judge, she feels a deep responsibility to be a role model and to share the knowledge that she has attained through her success. She uses her position as a judge to encourage pro bono services and to inspire younger lawyers to be authentic and the best version of themselves. Knowing that Judge Mora was eager to share her knowledge, I asked, “what advice would you share with your young self, your teenage self and your young, married attorney self?” In response, she provided, “First, to my young self, watch and see how the women in your life balance everything, watch how those women focus on work and family. To my teenage self, since teenagers are so focused on their appearance, I would emphasize that you are great the way you are, it is okay to be different, and you can be the social and smart girl. Finally, to my young, married attorney self, I would emphasize the importance of marrying a partner that you are compatible with.”
Women’s history month celebrates the achievements and contributions of women. Judge Mora is a role model who exemplifies the importance of preparation, hard work, dedication and sharing success. Although success can be self-serving, Judge Mora’s example demonstrates that the fruits of success are multiplied when they are shared and used to lift others up.