College of Law

Tamera N. (Thomas) Rocha '10

participating in progress

May 2, 2022

Tamera Rocha

Tamera N. (Thomas) Rocha '10 is the director of Rhode Island Supreme Court's Access to Justice Office. She joined the Rhode Island Supreme Court in 2016 as a staff attorney in the Supreme Court's Office of General Counsel. In 2021, Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul A. Suttell announced the creation of a new department within the Rhode Island Supreme Court – the Access to Justice Office – with Tamera overseeing the office and its three vital court services: ensuring language access for court users and litigants with limited English proficiency, ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and expanding services and resources for self-represented litigants.

Tamera grew up in Lansing, Michigan and from time to time, her father (a police officer at the time) would take her to court when he was called to testify. As a child, Tamera was intrigued with the judicial system and loved to read. When the time came to select a law school, Tamera chose Toledo Law because of its proximity to Michigan, its public interest program and the bar passage rate. She also received a scholarship to attend Toledo Law, which helped make her dream of attending law school a reality. While in law school she gained practical experience working as a summer associate at the Toledo law firm of Cooper & Walinski. She also participated in the domestic violence clinic. Tamera had not planned on moving to Rhode Island, but the Great Recession eventually trickled down to her job offer at a mid-sized law firm, and that offer was rescinded. Tamera visited her now-husband, Ernesto, and decided to relocate taking a position working in legal compliance at Textron Financial in the company's in-house counsel division.

In her current capacity as director of the Access to Justice Office of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, Tamera is working to ensure that citizens have access to the services, programs, and proceedings of the court regardless of English proficiency, disability status and/or access to counsel. She works to identify and eliminate barriers that individuals may encounter when trying to achieve justice. Through working with the Chief Justice, State Court Administrator, court administrators and community partners, she is part of the movement toward identifying current initiatives and implementing new policies and programs to achieve this goal.

Tamera earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Central Michigan University and a J.D. degree from the University of Toledo College of Law.

Q&A with Tamera N. Rocha

Do you have a favorite memory from attending Toledo Law?
Many of my favorite memories from Toledo Law involve the lifelong friendships that I made with fellow students while serving as President of the Black Law Students Association and the Family Law Society. My favorite memory, however, was representing Toledo Law in New Orleans, Louisiana for the Mardi Gras National Moot Court Competition and placing third for best brief.

What has been a career highlight?
Witnessing the season of "firsts" in Rhode Island has been a highlight of my career so far. In 2021, the Rhode Island Supreme Court saw the first African American sworn in as a Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice. That same year, the Supreme Court announced the appointment of the first woman to hold the Judiciary's top administrative position. Finally, also in 2021, the Supreme Court announced the creation of the Access to Justice Office with an emphasis on eliminating barriers to access to justice for all.

What have you found most satisfying about your career?
There are days when I walk the hallways of our courthouse and realize that I am making a difference by ensuring that people have the ability to have their stories heard, including language access services to ensure that interpreters are available (prior to the pandemic the Judiciary provided over 10,000 language service events to court users and litigants).

Do you have any suggestions for law students/new lawyers interested in a similar path?
Really utilize your summer for career development and growth through internships, summer associate positions, and clinics. Do not be afraid to seek out a mentor.

What should new attorneys keep in mind and be thinking about?
Keep in mind how technology will impact your clients, your case, and your representation. In response to the pandemic, we saw a shift occur throughout the nation pertaining to how courts continued operations during the pandemic, which resulted in a massive influx in matters being heard remotely. As we now, hopefully, exit the pandemic, new attorneys (as well as seasoned attorneys) must consider how holding remote matters may impact clients, your case, and your representation – this includes understanding the digital divide.

What problem would you like to solve?
World conflict.

What was the best advice you ever received?
Never stop learning! The law is forever changing, and it is our responsibility to make sure that we are always learning and looking for ways to improve our judicial system.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Yoga, biking, and spending time with my husband, Ernesto, and our two children Ernesto Jr. and Audrianna enjoying New England's coastal communities.

Last Updated: 6/27/22