We all know and love Judge Judy, also known as Judith Sheindlin, as the rough and tough personality on the daytime reality courtroom show of the same name. Judge Judy was so popular, it remained on the air for 25 years and made Sheindlin one of the highest-earning TV personalities of all time. In 2022, she is still going just as strong as ever. So, how did Sheindlin become the successful TV icon she is today? Here’s a deep dive into her career and net worth.
Judge Judy’s Early Legal Career
Sheindlin’s career ended up in a place that’s very different than that of most judges. In the beginning, though, she was a regular law student with goals of one day making courtrooms work for the greater good.
Before she was known as Judge Judy, Sheindlin was born Judith Susan Blum on October 21, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York. In 1963, she graduated from American University. She then moved on to American University’s Washington College of Law. There she was the only woman in her 126-student class. Ultimately, she finished her law degree at New York Law School.
After obtaining her law degree in 1965, she started work as a corporate lawyer with a cosmetics firm. She quickly realized that this role wasn’t for her, though. Sheindlin left in her first two years at the firm to stay at home with her two children, Jamie and Adam.
In 1972, she took on a new role as a prosecutor for the New York family court system. Her role there focused on domestic violence cases and child abuse cases, as well as prosecuting juvenile crime.
In 1982, Sheindlin became a judge in the New York family court, appointed by New York City Mayor, Ed Koch. Four years later, she was promoted to the role of the supervising judge in the Manhattan division of the family court.
How She Became A Cultural Icon
In her first few years on the job, Sheindlin made a name for herself as a no-nonsense, tough but fair judge. Over time, her unique tactics began to gain media attention. In February 1993, she had a profile in the Los Angeles Times. The piece portrayed her as a brash, yet heroic judge fighting for justice and a fair court that served the greater good.
The piece was followed by a profile about her hard-hitting courtroom tactics on 60 Minutes in 1993. Her newfound media attention and name recognition eventually prompted her agent to pitch the idea for Sheindlin’s very own courtroom TV show.
In September 1996, Sheindlin retired from family court, and Judge Judy premiered. This reality court show followed small-claims court cases within a simulated courtroom set. This was the first series to exist in its genre. Sheindlin’s tough personality and humorous quips made the show fun and interesting. By February 1999, Judge Judy occupied the number 1 slot for syndicated series. In August of that same year, Judge Judy had an average of 7 million weekly viewers, proving itself as a tough competitor for The Oprah Winfrey Show. This made Judge Judy one of the most successful daytime television shows in history.
Judge Judy’s massive success spawned its own genre. Many other daytime reality court shows have followed in its wake, including Judge Hatchett, Judge Joe Brown, Judge Mathis, and Hot Bench, which Sheindlin produces.
After a whopping 25 season run, Judge Judy aired its final episode in July 2021. This wasn’t because Sheindlin was ready to retire though. On the contrary, Sheindlin was ready to change with the times and premiere her new show, Judy Justice, on IMDb TV. With the goal of being a fresh, hipper version of Judge Judy, Sheindlin’s new series was made to appeal to a new generation of audiences. Judy Justice is also the first reality court series to premiere on a streaming service.
As if she wasn’t busy enough, Sheindlin has also written multiple books, including Don’t Pee On My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining (1996), Beauty Fades, Dumb is Forever (1999), Win or Lose by How You Choose (2000), and What Would Judy Say? Be the Hero of Your Own Story (2014). She’s even made it onto the New York Times Bestseller list.
Inside Her Lavish Lifestyle
Scheindlin has put in more than her fair share of work in her lifetime, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t take the time to relax and enjoy life too. Sheindlin has an impressive real estate portfolio, owning six properties all over the United States. Her primary residence is a massive $13.2 million mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut. She has two homes in Naples, Florida. One is an $11 million penthouse with its own lagoon; the other is a nearby $8.6 million mansion to house her extended family for vacations.
She owns a $9 million house on a 9,719-square-foot property in Newport, Rhode Island. The home is referred to as the “Bird House” because it’s placed on the highest point in the town. She also has a $10.7 million five-bedroom condo in Beverly Hills for times she needs to visit the West Coast. And of course, the native New Yorker has an $8.5 million duplex on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
With six homes all over the country, Sheindlin has to do quite a bit of traveling (even when she’s technically staying at one of her homes.) Of course, though, she never flies commercial. Rather, she takes her private jet. And, if that doesn’t seem like enough, she previously also had a 152-foot-long yacht she called Triumphant Lady, which she sold for an impressive $6.9 million.
Judge Judy’s Net Worth In 2022
After a long career like hers, it’s no surprise that Judge Judy has achieved monetary success. Still, in 2022 her estimated $460 million net worth is pretty impressive. According to Forbes, she only worked 52 days per year while on Judge Judy and earned $47 million per year. In 2018, Sheindlin became the 48th-richest self-made woman in the US.
Judge Judy, more or less singlehandedly, invented courtroom reality television. In that way, she changed the game of how the public understands the US court system. While most of us would be terrified to be in a courtroom with Sheindlin at the bench, we hope she keeps fighting for justice and running her courtroom in style for many years to come.