Judith Sheindlin, better known as Judge Judy, first became a practicing lawyer in 1965. Since beginner her legal career, she has become a major television personality, presiding over her own reality courtroom series since 1996.
Sheindlin was born on Oct. 21, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York. She went on to attend American University in Washington, D.C., earning both an undergraduate degree and a graduate law degree. Sheindlin was the only woman in her graduating class of 126. After passing the New York bar exam in 1965, she began practicing law as a corporate lawyer for a cosmetics firm. Unsatisfied with the work, she took a job in the New York family court system in 1972, prosecuting child abuse, domestic violence and juvenile crime cases.
Sheindlin gained a reputation as skilled litigator, and New York Mayor Ed Koch appointed her as a family court judge in 1982. Sheindlin’s renown as a tough, honest judge who stuck up for the underdog began to bring her media attention, including profiles in the Los Angeles Times and on “60 Minutes.” Following the media attention, Sheindlin’s agent got her a television deal. Premiering in 1996, “Judge Judy” quickly became one of the most popular daytime television shows, edging out “Oprah” in many markets. “Judge Judy” spawned many other TV judge shows and made Sheindlin one of television’s wealthiest stars; she earned $47 million from her show in 2013.