Nov. 23, 2015 – Ruby Kless Sondock, who helped open doors to women at the University of Houston law school as well as the state’s judicial chambers, was inducted recently as the 19th Texas Legal Legend by the litigation section of the State Bar of Texas.
“Justice Sondock’s career and life is an example of how legal education is so powerful,” said UH Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes while welcoming faculty, staff, students, and guests to the induction ceremony Nov. 11 at the school. “Her life is an emblem of the changes and progress in the role of women, our society, and the legal profession.”
“A Texas Legal Legend is somebody who does something bigger than them self, somebody that’s a giver not a taker, somebody that understands as a lawyer, ‘I have to do something to help preserve our rights,’ ” said Wes Christian, co-chair of the Texas Legal Legends Committee. “The person we are inducting today is the epitome of an exceptional lawyer and worthy of being inducted as a Texas Legal Legend.”
Jennifer Doan, committee co-chair, introduced Sondock and spoke about the stereotypical limitations she faced at the beginning of her legal education and career.
“Her goal wasn’t to graduate and join a big Texas law firm, because that was never going to happen; the opportunities didn’t exist for women then like they do today,” said Doan. “It was completely different back when she started law school and we owe that difference to women like Ruby.”
Sondock passed the bar in 1961 before she graduated from law school as valedictorian and one of five women in the Class of 1962. In her first year of practicing law, she led a case before the Texas Supreme Court. She was the first female appointed to the bench of the Harris County Domestic Relations Court and later became the first female state district judge in Harris County. In 1982, she was appointed as the first woman to serve on the Texas Supreme Court in a regular session.
“Today is truly an honor and whatever I’ve done has been going on for over 50 years and that’s a long time to do anything,” said Sondock. “In 1961 woman had zero chance of getting out and getting a job, and if you looked like me you couldn’t get an interview.
“Although I had no intention of going to work, and especially not before I had gotten my degree, I had begun to practice because the job found me, and I practiced while I was getting my last 15 credit hours.”
Sondock departed with words of wisdom for the students just starting their legal careers: “Life is hard and short, this is not the dress rehearsal. You’ll find there is something different in making a living, making a life, and making a difference.
“We may not be able to save the world, but we should never forget that the legal profession is dedicated to protecting and helping others, never think it is just about you.”