“My Story” Featuring Hon. Randa M. Trapp (Ret.)
Judge Trapp joined JAMS after serving 18 years on the San Diego Superior Court, including 10 years in the civil division, where she presided over all aspects of civil litigation.
Judge Trapp’s professional journey was circuitous. It began as she worked toward earning her undergraduate degree. She started out as a pre-pharmacy major in the 1970s, but she took a break and joined the military. She credits her experience in the military with helping her grow and mature as a person. When she returned to college, she obtained a political science degree and then proceeded to law school with the goal of helping people.
Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge Trapp had a varied career, which included a focus on construction defect and business litigation with a mid-sized firm. Additionally, she was corporate counsel for a Fortune 100 energy company.
When Judge Trapp was appointed to the bench, she had the opportunity to sit in Family Court, Criminal Court and ultimately the Civil Division, where she became the supervising judge of the third-largest court system in the nation.
Making the Best of Every Situation
As a woman of color, Judge Trapp has encountered difficulties and barriers throughout her career. When she was practicing law, she found it challenging to find mentors and role models because there were no women partners at her firms. She learned to make the best of every situation, which is something that stayed with her through the years.
A Passion for Community Involvement
Community involvement has always been important to Judge Trapp. Having grown up in the turbulent 1960s, she has always felt it was important to honor those who made sacrifices on her behalf and help open doors for those coming behind her.
Another area that Judge Trapp is passionate about is working with young people and inspiring them to pursue their dreams.
“I didn’t know any African American lawyers or judges when I was growing up here in San Diego, so I like to be visible in the community so that little girls and boys can see me, a Black woman who is a judge.”
One of the things that Judge Trapp enjoyed doing while on the bench was opening up her courtroom to young people. They would get to participate in a mock trial, and she remembers how their eyes would light up.
“That would warm my heart because just from a short exposure, meeting lawyers and judges, performing a mock trial would interest these young people enough to make them say, ‘That’s something I can do.’”
When it comes to mentors, Judge Trapp believes it’s important to have different mentors for the different “seasons” of your career.
One mentor whom Judge Trapp worked with during her time as corporate counsel provided some lasting words of wisdom. She said, “Don’t borrow trouble.” That sage advice has stayed with Judge Trapp ever since.
“For me, what she meant by that was, don’t worry about things you can’t change,” says Judge Trapp. “Do your best, and if people have other agendas, you can’t worry about that.”
A Life In Forward Motion
When it comes to her life, Judge Trapp says she always moves forward.
“I know I’m not going to look back or turn around or give up. I’ve worked hard for every opportunity I’ve had, and I feel so grateful for all of them. I believe that if you keep going, keep moving forward, you’ll succeed.”
This perseverance has served Ms. Trapp well throughout her life and career, and is evident as she strives to help everyone she comes in contact with.
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