SPOTLIGHT: Sabrina Santamaria

March 13, 2024

Celebrating Women's History Month! Sabrina Santamaria; Labor & Employment Law; Government RepresentationWhat woman in the firm or the business community inspires you and why?

Though I was never fortunate enough to have her as a professor, I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Paula Franzese, Esq. during my studies at Seton Hall University School of Law. She has inspired me in more ways than I ever had the opportunity to express to her. Hearing her success story on my first day of law school provided me with so much hope.

Not only do Professor Franzese and I share the privilege of being a first-generation Italian America, but we also both lost our fathers at a young age. I can relate to the obstacles that she has had to overcome throughout her lifetime, and I have continuously been inspired by her perseverance despite the hurdles that she faced. She continues to be a role-model to law students and always makes herself available for mentorship and guidance.

As a new attorney, I hope to follow in her footsteps by providing mentorship to those pursuing the legal path.

If you could have dinner with anyone alive or dead, who would it be and why?

If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be Mother Teresa. In today’s world, we often lose track of what is important in life, and it is easy to become distracted by material possessions.

However, we often need to remind ourselves of those in the world who do not have the opportunities that we do. I would love to speak to Mother Teresa for inspiration on her selflessness and ability to make such a meaningful difference in the lives of those less fortunate.

What led you to the practice of law and/or to your specific area of law?

As a first-generation Italian American, my parents always instilled a sense of ambition in my sister and me. They taught us at an early age that hard work would open many doors in our lives and allow us to meet people that would impact our lives. In addition, they always emphasized the importance of choosing a career path that would allow us to use our skillset to give back to our community in some way. As someone who always had a passion for creative thinking and writing, I decided to choose the legal path.

In my undergraduate studies, at Ramapo College of New Jersey, I minored in Women’s & Gender Studies. Through my classes, I learned of the many ways that I could make an impact in the lives of other women, including becoming an attorney.

That was the moment all of the pieces came together, and I realized that I could take my parents’ advice to use my writing and analytical thinking skills to help women in my community.

How is being a woman lawyer advantageous?

Statistics show that from 1950 to 1970, only 3% of all attorneys were women. As of 2023, this percentage has risen to approximately 39%. Seeing this drastic change provides me with a sense of confidence. By confidence, I mean certainty that the number of women to advocate for will continue to increase.

I am proud to serve in a role in which I am able to assist women to have a voice by defending against sexual harassment and discrimination. I am also in a position to help advocate for equal pay in the workplace through my female clients.

I am of the belief that women are the best suited to protect the rights of other women, particularly because only women can relate to the issues that many women face.

What advice (professional or personal) would you give your younger self or the next generation of women leaders?

My advice to my younger self, as well as the next generation, is to never let anything get in the way of a goal that you have set for yourself. A bad grade is not failure. Having a bad day is not failure. Constructive criticism is not failure.

Failure is giving up and telling yourself that you are incapable of greatness.

You are the deciding factor in whether you fail or succeed in all that you do.

Have faith in yourself, be patient, and understand that every little step brings you one step closer to reaching your dreams.