May 25, 2022

Approach the Bench: Breaking Barriers in the Courtroom One Argument at a Time

On April 1, the IPLAC Litigation Committee presented a panel entitled “Approach the Bench: Breaking Barriers in the Courtroom One Argument at a Time – Things You Can & Should Be Doing. The panel featured four federal judges, a legal DEI professional, and an in-house trial attorney for a variety of perspectives. The goal of the discussion was to spotlight how some Courts have rules in place to help increase representation of attorneys of color, female attorneys, junior attorneys, and LGBTQ+ attorneys in the courtroom and to consider how practitioners can similarly promote meaningful opportunities for diverse attorneys.

It was generally agreed by all that the judges’ rules were beneficial and effective, but that the existence and practice of offering to provide courtroom time for diverse attorneys is not well-known and that other judges would most likely employ the rules, and practitioners would avail themselves of the benefits of such rules if they knew of their existence.

It was also agreed that more can be done. For example, each of the judges either expressed a desire to: enact a diversity rule; revise and make better an existing rule; and/or spread the world to colleagues about the existence and efficacy of such rules.

The in-house and DEI panelists agreed that such rules are useful and effective and that they too can and should bolster the promotion of meaningful legal experience for diverse attorneys in their practices (mentoring, sponsorship, and understanding).

The Committee also prepared a report that identifies, by federal jurisdiction and judge, all the rules regarding the promotion of courtroom time for diverse attorneys. The report can be found here.