Meet ana c. reyes -

DC's new LgbtQ+ hispanic judge


Meet DC's New Astute, Diligent Judge Ana C. Reyes

By Katie Buehler for Law 360

Law360 (March 17, 2023, 9:18 PM EDT) -- Washington, D.C.'s freshly sworn-in Judge Ana C. Reyes began one of her first hearings from the bench with a short sigh before warning a plaintiff's attorney that they were in for an unpleasant afternoon.

“She had concerns about the attorney's court filings but said she was willing to discuss them and then put the issues behind them as the case moved forward.</p><br>The filings, Judge Reyes continued, seemed to be missing some important facts about the case, which had been assigned to her the day after her swearing-in ceremony — about two weeks before the hearing. She said she was "stunned" by the filings based on the attorney's and their law firm's reputations, and wanted to ask a few clarifying questions.

Referring to a piece of paper she had brought into the courtroom with her, Judge Reyes asked the attorney to explain their client's specific allegations, interpretation of the facts and reasons behind requesting additional discovery in the case. The attorney answered each question in turn.

Those seem like excellent arguments to me, and none of that was in your [filing]," Judge Reyes said. "It was off on a tangent at best, misleading at worst. I'm going to assume you were busy, and I'm going to give you a second chance, and I'll put that out of my mind."

Throughout the rest of the hearing, Judge Reyes acknowledged several times that she was giving the plaintiff's attorney "a hard time," but forged onwards. At one point, she told the attorney she'd be willing to change her mind on a discovery issue if they could find a case that proved her wrong.

Former colleagues of the new judge told Law360 this is how she's always worked — analyzing all sides of an issue and leaving no stone unturned when preparing for a case. They expect her to hold the attorneys arguing in her courtroom to the same high standards she set for herself during her tenure as partner at Williams & Connolly LLP's Washington, D.C., office.

While her legal astuteness and diligence could be daunting in the courtroom, Judge Reyes' former colleagues said she also uses them to mentor younger attorneys and push colleagues to produce better work.

"It could be an intimidating experience, given how experienced she is and that she has a really sharp legal mind, but she's also extremely humble and personable and encouraging," said Blaine Bookey, legal director for the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, where Reyes provided pro bono representation to asylum-seekers fleeing gender persecution, such as forced marriages and domestic violence, in their home countries.

Judge Reyes' "intelligence, temperament and integrity" are what earned her a federal judgeship nomination, according to a statement released by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. She had recommended Judge Reyes to President Joe Biden, who originally tapped her for the nomination in April 2022.

Despite advancing out of the U.S. Senate's Committee on the Judiciary in August 2022, the full chamber failed to vote on her confirmation before the end of the year, and Biden had to renominate her for the position in January.

She was confirmed shortly after in February and sworn in later that month, making her the first Hispanic woman and first openly LGBTQ person to sit on D.C.'s federal bench.

Judge Reyes' historic confirmation is exciting, especially for young Hispanic and LGBTQ lawyers, Williams & Connolly partner Amy Mason Saharia said. But, she explained, it's important to note those qualities aren't what paved Judge Reyes' way to the federal bench.

"She's a federal judge because she's an exceptional attorney," Saharia said.

Judge Reyes has spent her entire career in private practice at Williams & Connolly, with a focus on international disputes and arbitrations, products liability, torts and law firm defense. She was hired by the firm as an associate in 2001 after spending a year clerking for Second Circuit Judge Amalya L. Kearse, and made partner in 2009.

Her clients list ranged from medical device and technology companies to foreign governments in Latin America and Europe.

She represented Spain, for example, in several arbitration disputes, including defending the country in a 2019 enforcement action related to a $66.3 million arbitral award won by two infrastructure investors over revoked economic incentives for renewable energy projects.

She also represented plaintiffs in arbitration award disputes, like Costa Rican printing business Trejos Hermanos Sucesores SA, which filed a lawsuit in 2021 against Verizon Communications Inc. to collect a $94 million award it secured for a soured deal.

Additionally, she was part of a team of attorneys who represented law firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in an arbitration dispute with Jones Day in which all details have remained private, but seemingly relates to the 2019 move of international arbitration partner Michael Bühler from Jones Day to Orrick.

No matter what type of dispute Judge Reyes handled as an attorney, she always took time to understand all sides of the potential legal arguments, Williams & Connolly partner Jessamyn S. Berniker said.

"Her judgment is terrific, and she takes pride in her work," Berniker said. "She always makes sure she's being careful and gets everything right."

Saharia added that Judge Reyes was always prepared to fight "tooth and nail" for her clients, but she also made sure to keep an open mind.

"She works hard, she's open-minded, she doesn't jump to conclusions," Saharia said. "She wants to hear all sides of the issue and think really carefully through them."

Judge Reyes' diligence spread into her pro bono work, as well, Bookey said. On top of her responsibilities as partner at Williams & Connolly, Judge Reyes also took the time to study and understand various aspects of immigration law.

The future judge spent more than a decade providing legal services to the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies. She had been named to the center's advisory board of legal experts prior to her judgeship nomination.

Judge Reyes also provided litigation help to Human Rights First and appellate work for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, according to her old Williams & Connolly profile.

None of her colleagues were surprised when Judge Reyes' nomination was announced, they told Law360. While it's a loss for her firm and pro bono clients, her confirmation to the federal bench is exciting for Washington, D.C., they said.

"She is the very, very best of the legal profession," Bookey said. "She's exactly who we should have deciding important legal issues that will impact a lot of people."

Judge Reyes earned her law degree from Harvard Law School. Before that, she received a master's degree in international public policy from Johns Hopkins University and an undergraduate degree from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky.

--Editing by Kristen Becker.

All Content © 2003-2023, Portfolio Media, Inc.


A future public policy maker and lawyer, a future theologian and minister, and a future public interest/public defender attorney have been selected by LULAC Lambda for its 2022 annual scholarships. The LGBTQ+ Latinx organization selected D.C. residents Tania Cabrera, Zoey McShane and Juan Carlos Mora, based on their academic merit and work in the community. 

“For a fifth year in a row, LULAC Lambda will provide scholarships to outstanding scholars who come from our LGBTQ+ Latinx community. Our scholarship program will help these scholars achieve their academic goals and reduce their student debt,” said Javier Aquino, LULAC Lambda president. “We want to thank the Brother Help Thyself (BHT) Foundation and LULAC Lambda supporters who have kept this scholarship alive.” 

Thanks to the generosity of the BHT Foundation, LULAC Lambda was able to award funds during a year when fundraising and events continue to be impacted by the pandemic. 

“The pandemic put an even heavier burden on my parent’s ability to provide financial assistant. The scholarship provided by LULAC Lambda will greatly supplement my cost-of-living budget and help with other expenses. I’m grateful to have received the support from an organization that is also committed to social justice,” said Cabrera, who is attending George Washington University, studying public policy with a focus on immigration policy and a goal of becoming an immigration attorney. She received $1,000. 

McShane received $2,000 for her master’s work at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. “I will utilize the funds awarded by this scholarship to offset the registration fees and other tuition expenses. I’m continuing to work part-time and doing my best to not take on any additional expenses,” said McShane. 

With a vocation to public service, Mora is continuing his master’s work in Public Policy, at George Washington University. He plans to use his $2,000 scholarship award toward expenses incurred completing his graduate thesis research. “This award will assist funding my policy research of public defender offices, county court houses and filing Freedom of Information Act requests.” 

LULAC Lambda is one of 1,000 chapters across the U.S. affiliated with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the nation’s largest and oldest Latinx volunteer-based civil rights organization. One of the goals of LULAC is to increase access to education, so it encourages local chapters like LULAC Lambda to sponsor scholarships.

2022 Tania Cabrera George Washington University
Tania Cabrera studies Political Science and Spanish at George Washington University. Determined and focused, awarded and recognized for both her academic and athletic achievements, Tania’s goal is to become an immigration attorney.
2022 Zoey McShane Wesley Theological Seminary
Zoey McShane is in Wesley Theological Seminary’s master’s program. Working at the Human Rights Campaign and as a Sexual Education Teacher for a local church, Zoey hopes to become a tool for change as a Theologian and Minister.
2022 Juan Carlos Mora George Washington University
Juan Carlos Mora is in George Washington University’s Public Policy master’s program. A Legislative Intern of U.S. Senator Padilla (D-CA) and Assistant Legislator General for GW’s Student Association, Juan Carlos plans to work in public policy at the federal level.

The 2023 scholarship program will begin accepting applications on March 1, 2023