Nirlaine Tallandier Smartt

Nirlaine Tallandier Smartt headshot, African American woman with short, dark hair, pictured in front of an American flag

Name: Nirlaine Tallandier Smartt
Job Title: Saint Lucie County Judge
City: Port Saint Lucie, Florida

#LWW: How did you attain your current position?
NTS: I attained my judgeship through a rigorous judicial nomination process and was appointed by Governor Rick Scott on June 18, 2015.

#LWW: Which woman inspires you and why?
NTS: I am inspired by my mother, Clelia Louissaint because she has shown me what it is to be a woman of faith who perseveres through the adversities of life.  My mother emigrated to the United States of America from Haiti in her late twenties with nothing and had to leave her two young children behind in order to pursue a better life for them.  My mother worked as a janitor for twenty-four years for Nynex (Formally New York Telephone Company) to make sure that her children would be able to attain the “American Dream.” There is no one who touched my life in a more positive way than my mother.

#LWW: What is the greatest challenge you faced in getting to where you are today?
My greatest challenge was overcoming the naysayers.  Many people voiced that I would not attain the appointment because I did not know the right people or belong to the right group but through it all I persevered knowing that nothing is impossible to those who believe.

#LWW: What are the unique challenges faced by women in your area of practice?
NTS: I believe that a unique challenge facing a female judge is sometimes overcoming society’s expectations as to what her temperament should be.  At times, society does not always have a favorable view of women in power and puts a negative connation to it.  Women in power need to come to terms with this fact and rise above it, wielding the power they are given with justice, wisdom, and perseverance.

#LWW: What will be the biggest challenge for young women lawyers in the next 10 years?
NTS: Finding new frontiers to pioneer!  To think that there will come a time when women lawyers will have infiltrated all areas of the law in leadership positions is very exciting.

#LWW: What can be done to accelerate gender equality?
NTS: Developing mentorship programs in every area of the law that would allow  young lawyers the opportunity to master an area of law.

#LWW: What advice do you have for young women lawyers today?
NTS: My advice to the young women lawyers is that they not let anyone define them or their capabilities.  They need to believe in themselves and that nothing is impossible.

#LWW: In your position, what do you do to promote women in the profession?
NTS:  I understand the fact that I am a pioneer in that I am the first female Haitian American Judge in the State of Florida and the only minority judge to serve in the 19th Judicial Circuit. I take these facts very seriously and take pride in my work.  I promote women in my profession by striving for excellence in all that I do. I took every opportunity presented to encourage young women to pursue a career in law by sharing my love of the law with them. It has been truly an honor to serve my community as a county judge.