Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 26

FEATURE
The Appellate Project
On a Mission to Diversify the Highest Courts
By Sarah Kellogg
H
aving a variety of experiences and perspectives
in federal and state appellate courts - both
on the bench and in the bar - is essential at a
time when public confidence in the legitimacy
and efficacy of the legal system is diminished.
" Everyone, whether they're a lawyer or not, appreciates how important
our highest courts are, " says Juvaria Khan, founder and executive director
of The Appellate Project (TAP). " It's our third branch of government, and,
just as with any part of our democratic system, it needs to represent the
people for the people to trust it and for it to function best. "
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., and working nationwide, TAP seeks
to address representation issues by building diversity from the base up.
The organization prioritizes reducing the information and access barriers
to appellate career opportunities faced by law students of color, especially
first-generation students who may have little knowledge of appeals
courts and appellate law before arriving on campus.
Khan says judicial diversity is especially crucial today as state and federal
appellate courts are asked to decide cases concerning voting rights, affirmative
action, and the sovereignty of tribal nations - legal and constitutional
questions that principally affect people of color, women, and
certain ethnic and religious groups.
Yet the numbers, while improving, remain dismal. As of October 1, 2023,
there were 1,423 sitting federal judges in the United States, and they
were notably male (68 percent) and white (76 percent), according to the
American Bar Association's latest " Profile of the Legal Profession. " The
diversity of the federal bench has improved recently, with advances
in representation both in gender and color, but lawyers of color and
26 WASHINGTON LAWYER
* MARCH/APRIL 2024
women are underrepresented compared to their percentages in the
U.S. population.
At the state level, 20 percent of state justices were people of color and
58 percent were men, according to a 2023 report by the Brennan Center
for Justice at New York University, which tracks state supreme court
demographic data. " The lack of racial and gender diversity on today's
courts is driven by myriad and complex factors, including a long history
of racial and gender discrimination and inequities in access to law
schools and the legal bar, " the Brennan Center states on its website.
Khan says the numbers reflect the chasm between the individuals who
decide some of the most critical constitutional questions in this country
and the population they represent. She says long-term inequities in the
legal system have created a patchwork of conflicts and barriers for law
students planning their futures.
" Today, it's happenstance whether someone is plugged into the right
law schools and the right networks to consider a future in appellate law, "
says Khan, noting that too much is at stake for birth or luck to determine
who has access to information.
KNOWLEDGE AS A FIRST STEP
By offering mentorships and resources to inform and empower students,
TAP hopes to open up career paths in state and federal appellate law.
Since September 2020, TAP's flagship mentorship program has supported
nearly 500 individuals from more than 50 law schools, pairing law students
with two mentors in the appellate field, including attorneys, judges,
professors, and law clerks.
Exposure to appellate law is especially important for TAP fellows because
so many of them have grown up outside the corridors of legal and politiABOVE:
Fellows of The Appellate Project are paired with mentors in the appellate
field, from attorneys to law professors to judges.

Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024

Notice to Members
From Our President
Calendar of Events
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Defending Diversity: Rise of DEI-Focused Practices
Will Law Firms Stay the Course on Improving Diversity?
Unlocking the Potential of Diverse Talent
We Belong: Black Students in the IP Talent Pipeline
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Her Legacy Lives on Through Us
Get to Know The Appellate Project
Speaking Up for Lawyers With Invisible Disability
Special Section: 25 Years of the Youth Law Fair
Taking the Stand
Worth Reading
Member Spotlight
On Further Review
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 4
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Notice to Members
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Defending Diversity: Rise of DEI-Focused Practices
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Will Law Firms Stay the Course on Improving Diversity?
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Unlocking the Potential of Diverse Talent
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - We Belong: Black Students in the IP Talent Pipeline
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Her Legacy Lives on Through Us
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Get to Know The Appellate Project
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Speaking Up for Lawyers With Invisible Disability
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Special Section: 25 Years of the Youth Law Fair
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 35
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 36
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 43
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 45
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover4
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