Bolch Judicial Institute at Duke University School of Law
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Guidelines and Best Practices Addressing Chronic Failure to Diversify Leadership Positions in the Practice of Law

The Duke Law Judicial Studies Center will hold an invitation-only Distinguished Lawyers conference on Guidelines and Best Practices Addressing Chronic Failure to Diversify Leadership Positions in the Practice of Law in Denver, Colorado, on June 21-22, 2018. If you are interested in attending, please send a brief description of your mass-tort MDL or class action experience and reasons for attending the conference to

The purpose of the June 21-22 conference is to: (1) review best practices proposed by volunteer judges and lawyers attending the 2017 Duke Law conference for promoting greater diversity in leadership positions in the practice of law, and (2) develop strategies for implementing them .  Drafting team leaders will explain the proposed best practices, and judges and officers of major bar organizations will comment on them and how best to implement and make them effective.

Fifteen federal judges and approximately 75-100 practitioners are expected to attend.  Judges J. Michelle Childs, Amy St. Eve, Jeremy Fogel, George Hanks, Tanya Kennedy, John Lungstrum, Michael Melloy, Kathryn Vratil, and retired Judges Shira Scheindlin and Stanwood Duval have already agreed to attend.

Officers from the following bar organizations are panelists:

American Bar Association – Immediate Past President, Linda Klein
National Association of Women Judges – President, Honorable Tanya Kennedy
National Association of Women Lawyers – President, Angela Brandt
American Association for Justice – President, Kathleen Nastri
Defense Research Institute – President-Elect, Toyja Kelley

This is an opportunity for counsel experienced in complex litigation and leaders of bar organizations, law firms, and corporations to meet with members of the judiciary to address longstanding problems afflicting the practice of law and the administration of justice.

In recent years, the judiciary has made important strides in increasing diversity in class action and MDL leadership appointments.  This conference will build on the judiciary’s initiative and simultaneously send a clear message to law firms and corporations that they must take into account diversity when proposing lawyers for leadership positions. The proposed best practices document defines the problems, explains the governing law, describes barriers to appointment, and recommends steps the judiciary and private sector can take to promote more appointments of women and minority lawyers to leadership positions. The recommendations are practical and substantive, and the Judicial Studies Center is committed to working with the bench and bar to implement these best practices in ways that demonstrably achieve results.

Active interaction among judges, practitioners, and law professors in an intimate environment is a hallmark of every Duke Law’s Distinguished Lawyers Conference.  At the conference, we will ask that each panelist make brief remarks.  We will then open a general discussion on the best way to handle the problem.  All conferees are expected to participate in the discussion.

To encourage frank discussions, the conference is held under the Chatham House Rule: “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”

Registration Fee.  The registration fee of $1,350 includes conference materials, two continental breakfasts, coffee breaks, lunch on Thursday, a reception on Thursday evening, and grab-and-go snacks at the end of the conference on Friday.

CLE ─ Nine (9) credit hours have been applied for in North Carolina and eleven (11) credit hours have been applied for in Colorado.  If you are a practicing attorney in North Carolina, your CLE hours will be submitted for you.  Attorneys from other states will receive a “Certificate of Attendance” and a completed “Uniform Application for Accreditation” form after the conference in order to submit CLE hours for your state.