Hispanic Heritage Month: Meet Miami-Dade County's First Female Hispanic Chief Judge

Posted at 12:20 PM, Oct 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-15 12:20:00-04

"I’m a child o the 60’s and I saw what the civil rights movement did and all the movement based on great lawyers and great cases and I thought, that’s what I want to do," said Judge Bertila Soto.

Soto has made history in the courtroom.

"I was the first female and the first Hispanic Cuban chief judge in Miami-Dade County. It was an incredibly humbling honor to be selected by my colleagues," she said.

That happened in 2013. She held the chief judge title for eight years. Now she’s in the probate division.

Soto has served 24 years in the MiamiDade County courtroom.

"I hope they feel like they get access and that I'm fair. I’m not a patient person, which his one of my downfalls, I may do things fast but I want the parties who come before to feel like they’ve been heard," said Soto.

Soto says growing up she looked up to her father, Osvaldo Soto. He was a legal pioneer who helped Cuban Americans gain equal representation in government and fought for the repeal of an English-only law in Miami-Dade County.

"I learned that my father had been a lawyer in Cuba. Watching Perry Mason and watching my father who then studied for the bar and decided to be a lawyer again in this country, really inspired me to become a lawyer," said Soto.

And that legacy lives on! Soto’s daughter is also a lawyer.

"I learn more from her than she learns from me. Just like I learned so much from my dad," Soto added.

Soto knows the road to representation is a marathon, not a sprint but she hopes she has inspired Hispanic women along the way.

"Remember our roots and that’s being American. Being American is being able to be who you are and where you come from".