SUPPORTING THE CREATION OF AN AD HOC COMMITTEE
ON RACIAL, ETHNIC AND GENDER FAIRNESS IN THE PHILADELPHIA LEGAL SYSTEM
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has taken leadership in the Philadelphia legal community on race, ethnic and gender issues by proposing a Statement of Goals of Philadelphia Law Firms and Legal Departments for Increasing Minority Representation and Retention and a Statement of Goals of Philadelphia Law Firms and Legal Departments for the Retention and Promotion of Women;
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to address issues as to the existence of racial and ethnic bias in our state courts;
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has established a Task Force on Gender Fairness in the justice system and a Task Force on Racial Bias in the Justice System;
WHEREAS, anecdotal evidence suggests continued incidents in which women and minorities have experienced discriminatory practices and/or unequal treatment;
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association is dedicated to continuing to promote the professional interests of its membership, regardless of race, ethnicity or gender;
WHEREAS, there does not now exist a mechanism to gather and evaluate information and anecdotal evidence concerning instances of racial/ethnic and gender bias in the legal system;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association believes that rectifying racial, ethnic and gender bias in the legal system is a serious issue that should be addressed;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Governors hereby supports and recommends the creation, as a first step, of an Ad Hoc Committee, described in the attached statement of purpose, to receive, evaluate and consider information regarding any problems or concerns relating to racial, ethnic or gender bias in the legal system.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: October 30, 1997
Purpose of Ad Hoc Committee
The purpose of this Ad Hoc Committee is to provide a system whereby the Philadelphia Bar Association can in one central location collect and evaluate information concerning instances of racial, ethnic and gender bias in the legal system. Collection of such information will enable the Bar to determine whether further measures are appropriate and necessary. In addition, the Ad Hoc Committee will be able to design, advocate and implement programs and take steps aimed at achieving goals related to gender, racial and ethnic fairness that are set forth in the above-referenced Bar Association resolutions.
In implementing these goals, the Ad Hoc Committee wil review and recommend educational programs and will also make such other recommendations as it deems appropriate. After evaluation of the information collected, the Ad Hoc Committee maybe charged with developing procedures to respond to individual complaints that may arise in the practice of law. Such procedures have been successfully instituted and implemented by the Allegheny County Bar Association. In addition, appropriate procedures could be modeled after other Philadelphia Bar Association programs. Any proposed procedures should be designed to ensure complete confidentiality, an opportunity for all sides to be heard so that evaluations of such concerns can be fairly addressed, and an opportunity to mediate and/or conciliate differences among the individuals involved. The procedures would at all times provide for the voluntary participation of all parties concerned.
The members of this Ad Hoc Committee will be appointed by the Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association for three-year staggered terms.