‘You Can Be Inspiring’: US Chief Judge Laura Taylor Swain Emphasizes Mentorship to Fordham Law Graduates


The Honorable Judge Laura Taylor Swain, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, served as the commencement speaker at Fordham Law’s 115th Diploma Ceremony. Her remarks that emphasized the importance of mentorship were covered in New York Law Journal.

Swain noted that she is the second woman of color to serve as chief judge for the Southern District, and Motley was the first. Swain clerked for Motley during Motley’s first year as chief judge, allowing her to “learn about the administration of justice and judicial temperament at her feet.”

“My life has been enriched over and over again by deepening knowledge and appreciation of her accomplishments and by her support over the years,” Swain said. “After seeing her in action, I never had a moment’s doubt that a Black woman could become and excel as a federal judge.”

Swain said she was inspired to reflect on the role mentorships played in her life after she met with Fordham Law student leaders ahead of the commencement address and asked them what was most meaningful about their experience in law school.

“Across the board, they spoke in terms of bonding with others, creating and strengthening community, learning to lead collaboratively, their joy and being able to advocate for their peers, and their experiences of mentoring and being mentored,” Swain said.

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