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Diversity Progress on the Bench: US President Biden's Judicial Nominees

Legility 04 / 12 / 21

U.S. President Joe Biden’s diverse slate of judicial nominees reflects progress in the legal industry in embracing women, minorities, and people with nontraditional backgrounds in leadership roles.

Read on for a quick primer on who the nominees are, and what you need to know.

Who are the new U.S. judicial nominees?

Biden’s first 11 nominees for federal district and appeals courts signify a stark departure from former U.S. President Donald Trump’s 221 judicial appointees, who were mostly white, relatively young, and male.1

In contrast, Biden has nominated nine women, including three Black women, and two men to fill court vacancies. If confirmed, some of his nominees would mark historical firsts: the first Muslim to serve as a federal district judge, the first Asian-American woman to join the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the first woman of color to sit on the federal bench in Maryland, according to the White House. The nominees also bring a variety of legal experience, including public defense.2

Ketanji Brown Jackson

Nominated for: U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Current role: U.S. District Court judge for the District of Columbia

Notable professional experience: Former criminal and civil appellate attorney; former assistant federal public defender; former assistant counsel at the Sentencing Commission

Tiffany Cunningham

Nominated for: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Current role: Partner at Perkins Coie LLP in Chicago

Expertise: Trial and appellate counsel in complex patent and trade secret disputes

Candace Jackson-Akiwumi

Nominated for: Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

Current role: Partner at Zuckerman Spaeder LLP in Washington, D.C.

Expertise: Complex civil litigation, white-collar criminal defense and investigations

Notable professional experience: Former staff attorney at the Federal Defender Program in the Northern District of Illinois

Deborah Boardman

Nominated for: U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

Current role: U.S. magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

Notable professional experience: Federal public defender

Lydia Griggsby

Nominated for: U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

Current role: Judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims

Notable professional experience: Chief counsel for privacy and information policy and privacy counsel for Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont

Julien Neals

Nominated for: U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

Current role: County counsel for the acting county administrator for Bergen County, New Jersey

Notable professional experience: Former U.S. attorney prosecuting homicides, other violent crimes, organized crime, and narcotics trafficking and former deputy chief of the Appellate

Florence Y. Pan

Nominated for: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Current role: Associate judge on the Superior Court for the District of Columbia

Notable professional experience: Former U.S. attorney prosecuting homicides, other violent crimes, organized crime, and narcotics trafficking and former deputy chief of the Appellate

Zahid N. Quraishi

Nominated for: U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

Current role: U.S. magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

Notable professional experience: Assistant U.S. attorney and an Army judge advocate general for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

Regina Rodriguez

Nominated for: U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

Current role: Partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in Denver

Expertise: Complex litigation and government investigations 

Margaret Strickland

Nominated for: U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico

Current role: Partner at McGraw & Strickland LLC in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Expertise: Civil rights and criminal defense cases in state and federal courts in New Mexico

Notable professional experience: President of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association from 2017-2019

Rupa Ranga Puttagunta

Nominated for: Superior Court of the District of Columbia

Current role: Administrative judge for the D.C. Rental Housing Commission

Notable professional experience: Indigent criminal defense

Diversity, equity, and inclusion matters in the judiciary

The 11 nominations are just the first of a series to fill 68 court openings and another 26 expected to become vacant later this year, according to The New York Times.3

If this first round of nominees sets the tone for the others, Biden’s appointments could help energize efforts toward more diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession.

Learn more about the importance of diversity in the legal profession.

Legility is a legal services company providing data hosting and management, technology-enabled services, consulting, flexible legal talent, and managed review services to in-house law departments and law firms. Legility is not, and none of its affiliates are, a law firm and does not provide legal advice as part of its services and nothing contained herein should be construed as such.

About the author

Legility
Legility

Legility, a leading provider of technology-enabled legal services, provides consulting, technology, managed solutions, and flexible legal talent to corporations and law firms. The company has more than 1,000 lawyers, engineers, consultants, technology and data specialists, and operational experts serving more than one-third of the Fortune 100 and one-quarter of the Am Law 200. Legility helps its clients improve operational efficiency. By combining people, processes, and technology, Legility offers innovative and bundled solutions that align with how the legal market is increasingly looking to engage. www.legility.com

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