RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS
OF THE PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION TO
INCLUDE EDUCATION TO PROMOTE FAIRNESS AND
ELIMINATE ANY BIAS IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
AS PART OF CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION
WHEREAS, on March 3, 2003, the Pennsylvania's Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Justice System presented its Final Report ("Final Report") to the Supreme Court in which it found that racial, ethnic and gender bias does exist, and that it can affect the outcome of cases as well as adversely impact participants in the justice system, including lawyers, judges, court personnel, parties, criminal defendants, witnesses, and jurors;
WHEREAS, the Final Report found that raising awareness of the impact of any bias in the legal profession and the courts is important in order to increase public confidence in the fairness of the legal profession as well as to ensure the fair administration of justice;
WHEREAS, the Final Report made several recommendations regarding continuing legal education on issues of racial, ethnic and gender bias in the justice system;
WHEREAS, on March 25, 2003, the Philadelphia Bar Association Board of Governors unanimously passed a resolution "commending the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Justice System for its extraordinary efforts, insightful findings and report recommendations" and authorized the Chancellor to take appropriate steps to encourage further consideration of the issues addressed in the report;
WHEREAS, the Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association appointed a Special Committee to Coordinate the Bar's Response to the Supreme Court Racial and Gender Bias Report and Recommendations;
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has established a Committee to Promote Fairness in the Legal System to receive reports of bias in the legal system regarding any of the classes of persons protected by the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance;
WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania requires 12 hours of annual continuing legal education for lawyers, including one hour of ethics;
WHEREAS, the American Bar Association adopted a Resolution in February 2004 recommending that the Model Rule for Minimum Continuing Legal Education be amended to require continuing legal education programs relating to the promotion of full and equal participation in the profession and the elimination of racial, ethnic, gender, and disability bias in the profession;
WHEREAS, other state and federal task forces that have examined racial, ethnic and gender bias in the justice system have, like the Pennsylvania Final Report, recommended continuing legal education programs on the elimination of bias.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association encourages continuing legal education regarding the elimination of bias in the legal profession, the practice of law and/or the administration of justice based on classes of persons protected by current federal, state and local human relations laws, as they may be amended.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association encourages the inclusion of such education in any courses designed for attorneys newly admitted to the practice of law and as part of the annual continuing legal education for attorneys in Pennsylvania, presented either as courses focusing primarily on such bias education or by incorporating such bias education in other courses with substantive law or ethics credits.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association urges the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to require and the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and other certified providers of continuing legal education to support such continuing legal education programs.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor or his/her designee is authorized to take whatever steps are necessary to effectuate this resolution.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: MAY 4, 2004