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The Interbranch Commission implements recommendations from the Report of The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee on Racial, and Gender Bias in The Justice System. View the Report

Equal Opportunity and
Diversity Committee

The main priority of the Equal Opportunity and Diversity Committee is to improve the legal profession by promoting diversity. The Committee’s current initiatives include:

  • conducting implicit bias and diversity training sessions for judges, lawyers, and other court personnel;
  • creating and improving court policies relating to diversity and inclusion;
  • advocating for amendments to attorney and judicial codes of conduct to prevent harassment and discrimination in the profession;
  • increasing diversity in court appointments; and
  • addressing discrimination on the basis of the intersection of race and gender.

Training and Education: The Committee produced and widely distributed an extensive diversity manual,   Creating a Diverse Workforce in the Pennsylvania Courts: A Manual for Success to all of the Commonwealth's judicial districts, and conducts educational sessions for Pennsylvania’s judges and court administrators based upon the manual. The Committee additionally supports the inclusion of implicit bias training in Pennsylvania law schools, in CLE courses for lawyers, and in Continuing Judicial Education (CJE) programming, and is working to make such training mandatory for all attorneys and judicial officers. The Committee continues to regularly collaborate with law schools and bar associations to conduct yearly programming on the intersection of race and gender in the law.

Improving Court Policies: In connection with its successful effort to have the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopt a system-wide Policy on Non-Discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity, the Committee continues to advocate for education relating to the policy and complaint procedures. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently adopted the Committee’s suggestion to add a voluntary demographic check-off box on the annual attorney registration form. This initiative will establish a baseline for diversity efforts throughout the Commonwealth.

Amending Conduct Rules: The Supreme Court has approved the amendments to Pennsylvania's Judicial Conduct Code proposed by the Committee, which prohibit judges from engaging in discrimination and harassment in the course of legal proceedings. Currently, the Committee is working to amend Pennsylvania’s Rules of Professional Conduct to prohibit attorneys from engaging in the same conduct. The Policy and the Committee’s proposed amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct are set forth at right, under “Reports.”

Diversifying Appointments: The Committee provided all Pennsylvania judicial districts with uniform model appointment procedures and best practices that ensure the broadest opportunities for all interested parties to seek and obtain appointments by the courts.  The Committee’s letter that was sent to all judicial districts outlining the essential elements of model procedures is set forth at right, under “Reports.” As the Committee remains concerned with the lack of racial and ethnic diversity among the judiciary, the Committee is working with the Governor’s office to recommend ways to increase the diversity of judicial appointment candidates.

The Committee's past initiatives include:

  • conducting training sessions for women interested in running for judicial office;
  • researching and conducting training for judges and attorneys on eliminating implicit bias from the courts and larger legal profession; and
  • other initiatives outlined in Chapter Eight of the Final Report of the Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Justice System.