Maite D. Oronoz-Rodríguez, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, will be the keynote speaker as the University at Buffalo School of Law conducts its 130th Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 19, 2019.
After serving as associate justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico from 2014 to 2016, Oronoz-Rodríguez was sworn in as the court’s Chief Justice on February 22, 2016, becoming the first openly gay chief justice in U.S. history. She is the third woman to preside over the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico and the youngest person to do so.
Oronoz-Rodríguez began her professional career at the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico as a law clerk to former Chief Justice Federico Hernández-Denton. She has also served as deputy solicitor general and acting solicitor general of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and as general counsel to the city of San Juan. She previously maintained a private practice with a focus on the areas of commercial and civil litigation.
In January of 2018, the Chief Justice welcomed the law school’s Puerto Rico Recovery Assistance Legal Clinic during the clinic’s first trip to the island to assist with disaster recovery just a few months after Hurricane Maria. Since then, she has continued to offer her support and guidance, meeting with the clinic and Dean Aviva Abramovsky to discuss the island’s access-to-justice needs.
“Justice Oronoz-Rodriguez’s commitment to the preservation of justice is an incredible example for our graduating students,” says Dean Aviva Abramovsky. “In the aftermath of a major disaster, the Chief Justice and the court acted swiftly to ensure everyone’s safety and to resume courtroom activity, imparting a clear message that justice shall not be stopped.”
Oronoz-Rodriguez earned a Bachelor’s degree in history from Villanova University, a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law, and a Master’s Degree in Law from Columbia University.
The Chief Justice has been honored with the Puerto Rico Bar Association’s Civil Law Award; the Medal for Outstanding Academic Achievement and Community Service from the University of Puerto Rico’s Chancellor; and the Medal for Outstanding Student in Civil Law from the faculty of the University of Puerto Rico School of Law Faculty. She presides over the Puerto Rico Judicial Academy, the Board of Bar Examiners of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, the Access to Justice Commission, and the Committee on Gender and Equality.