2021 Judicial Diversity Summit

Stronger Together
Judicial Diversity Summit 2021

The Judicial Diversity Summit has been held every five years since 2006 to assess the efforts to increase judicial diversity in California, and to make recommendations for future activities and initiatives to diversify the judiciary. 

This year the summit will be titled Stronger Together: Judicial Diversity Summit 2021, and will be held remotely on three Tuesday evenings on September 14, 21 and 28.

Leading up to the Summit, we will be hosting a series of events in August & September. On August 4th at 5 pm join us for a kickoff fireside chat, Judicial Diversity Yesterday, which will reflect on the progress made over the past 15 years. Additional weekly educational sessions, planned by affinity associations, will address different facets of the pathway to the bench.
The intended audience for the summit is judicial officers and attorneys.

Register or Pre-Register to Save the Dates

Additional details and information about each event will be added to this web page as they become available – so check back for updates!
You can also “pre-register” for events presently – pre-registrants will receive an email notification once formal registration is live.

August 4, 2021 @ 5 – 6:30 p.m. | Judicial Diversity Yesterday: A Fireside Chat

In 2006, the first Judicial Diversity Summit was held to assess and increase the diversity of California’s bench. Fifteen years later, the Summit continues to provide opportunities to develop effective strategies so that the bench meaningfully represents and reflects the rich diversity of Californians. This session will provide a history of our collaborative efforts to diversify and their impact.


  • Moderated by: Catherine Ongiri, Esq., Judicial Council of California and Tristan Higgins, Esq., CEO and Founder, Metaclusive LLC
  • Hon. Brenda Harbin-Forte (Ret.), Superior Court of California, Alameda County
  • Ruthe Ashley, Esq., California LAW, Executive Director Emeritus
  • Patricia Lee, Esq., California LAW, Board Member; Chair, ABA Standing Committee on Public Education

Free event. No MCLE nor JCE credit offered.

August 11, 2021 @ 12 – 1:00 p.m. | Judicial Mentoring: Inside and Out

Want to know how you can get involved in a mentoring program to assist attorneys from diverse backgrounds to become judges? This session will provide an overview of judicial mentoring programs and opportunities for judges and attorneys across the state, both inside the courts and out in the communities they serve.


  • Hon. Monica F. Wiley, Superior Court California, San Francisco County
  • Hon. Audra M. Mori, Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County
  • Hon. Sergio C. Tapia II, Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County
  • Monique Jewett-Brewster, Esq., Hopkins Carley

August 18, 2021 @ 12 – 1:00 p.m. | Affinity Judicial Associations:  What are they, and what are they doing to increase diversity on the bench?

In 2020, California’s affinity judicial associations joined together to create the California Affinity Judicial Association Coalition (CAJAC).  This workshop will explore the work being undertaken by CAJAC and each affinity association to build networks, provide education, and increase diversity in the judiciary.  Speakers will discuss topics including mentorship programs; the vetting process for state and federal judicial applicants; resources available to lawyers and sitting judges; and how state and local bar associations can work with and learn from judicial affinity associations.     


  • Moderated by: Michael Rhoads, Esq., Co-Chair, SacLegal
  • Hon. Linda Colfax, Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, LGBT Judicial Officers of California (LGBT JOC)
  • Hon. Elizabeth Macias, Orange County Superior Court, California Latino Judges Association (CLJA)
  • Hon. Mark McCannon, Alameda County Superior Court, California Association of Black Lawyers, Judicial Council (CABLJC)
  • Hon. Sonny Sandhu, Superior Court of California, Stanislaus County, California Asian Pacific American Judges Association (CAPAJA)
  • Hon. Laura Walton, Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County Superior Court, Association of African American California Judicial Officers (AAAJCO)

August 25, 2021 @ 12 – 1:00 p.m. | From the Cafeteria to the Courtroom: Creating the pathway for tomorrow’s legal professional

This distinguished panel of legal professionals, educational professionals, and other stakeholders will discuss the importance of outreach into the community to stimulate and inspire youth to seek careers in the legal profession. The session will cover efforts that are already being made to provide children with judicial role models early in their education, what obstacles these efforts face, and possible solutions to these obstacles.


  • Moderator: Tristan Higgins, Esq., CEO and Founder, Metaclusive LLC and Blanca Quintero, Esq., La Raza Lawyers Association of San Diego
  • Hon. Rupert Byrdsong, Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County
  • Hon. Linda Colfax, Superior Court of California, San Francisco County
  • Hon. Robert Sanchez Dufour, Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County
  • Hon. Elizabeth Macias, Superior Court of California, Orange County

September 1, 2021 @ 12 – 1:00 p.m. | Increasing Diversity in Underrepresented Courts

Increasing diversity in underrepresented courts is crucial in a state as diverse as California.  There are many issues to consider and numerous resources available for would-be applicants.  At this session, we will explore what has worked to help applicants in very diverse counties.   Hear from statewide bar leaders and judges in this important session.  


  • Moderated by: Christopher Punongbayan, Esq. ChangeLawyers
  • Chris Arriola, Esq., Supervising Deputy District Attorney, Santa Clara County Office of the District Attorney
  • Naomi Dewey, Esq., Trusted Legal
  • Hon. Raquel Marquez, Riverside County Superior Court

September 8, 2021 @ 12 – 1:00 p.m. | A Conversation on Barriers to the Bench

Have you ever doubted your abilities and felt like you did not belong in the legal profession?  Do you ever feel like advancing in your career is out of your reach? Learn more about barriers to the bench including what imposter syndrome is, how it can affect your competence and judgment as a lawyer and strategies for beginning to overcome.  Hear from three sitting judges on the barriers they experienced and overcame during their journey to the bench. The panel will also address strategies to overcome barriers.


  • Moderated by: Adeyinka Glover, Esq., Disability Rights of California
  • Hon. Jessica Delgado, Superior Court of California, Santa Clara County
  • Hon. Roderick Shelton Superior Court of California, San Diego County
  • Hon. Victoria Kolakowski Superior Court of California, Alameda County
  • Neha Sampat, GenLead

September 14, 2021 @ 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. | Summit Day One: Judicial Diversity Today

Details coming soon!

September 21, 2021 @ 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. | Summit Day Two: Sharing What is Working – “Side Bars”

Details coming soon!

September 28, 2021 @ 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. | Summit Day Three: Judicial Diversity Tomorrow

Details coming soon!

Spread the Word

This event only happens once every five years, so we want to make sure all interested parties are aware of the opportunity to participate.  Please help us spread the word about this impactful multi-day event by circulating the event flyer and/or directing people to this web page.  Thank you in advance for your support and assistance!  

Presented by the California Lawyers Association, California Judges Association, and Judicial Council of California.
Supported by the California Lawyers Foundation.

The summit and pre-events were planned with the assistance and collaboration of the following organizations:

Association of African American California Judicial Officers (AAACJO)
California Asian Pacific American Bar Association (Cal-APABA)
California Asian Pacific American Judges Association (CAPAJA)
California Association of Black Lawyers (CABL), Judicial Section
California ChangeLawyers
California Judges Association
California Indian Law Association (CILA)
California La Raza Lawyers Association
California Latino Judges Association (CLJA)
California Lawyers Association (CLA)
California Women Lawyers (CWL)
Disability Rights of California
Iranian American Bar Association (IABA), Orange County
Judicial Council of California
La Raza Lawyers Association of San Diego
LGBT Judicial Officers of California (LGBT JOC)
McGeorge School of Law

Please contact us at JDS@calawyers.org if you have any questions about this event.
If you need an accommodation or for inquiries about accessibility, please contact us at JDS@calawyers.org or (916) 516-1721 by July 20, 2021.

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