Dean’s Leadership Forum on Diversity returns to Widener Law Harrisburg campus
Public Relations - Published: March 21, 2012
2012 Deans Diversity Demographics LARGE PromoThe changing demographics of central Pennsylvania and how they affect access to justice in the courtroom and the voting booth will frame the discussion of the 2012 Widener Law Dean’s Leadership Forum on Diversity.

The half-day event, founded by Dean Linda L. Ammons in 2007, will examine the special responsibility lawyers have toward the quality of justice in an ever-changing society. “Diversity and Demography in Central Pennsylvania: Access to Justice in that ‘More Perfect Union’ ” will feature two panel discussions.

The event will take place Friday, March 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in room A180 of the Widener Law Administration Building at 3800 Vartan Way, Harrisburg.

The first panel, “Overcoming Language Barriers and Achieving Ethnic Diversity,” will consider how lawyers and the legal system can make the courts accessible to the needs of all people, regardless of language or background.

Panelists will include Scott Casper, director of demographics for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Democratic Caucus, Common Pleas Court Judges Nathaniel C. Nichols and Ida Chen, who has also served on the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness. Nichols, who is African American, is a former Widener Law professor and Chen is the first Asian-American woman to serve as a judge in Pennsylvania.

The second panel, “District Lines, the Promise of Representative Democracy, and the Culturally Diverse Community” will consider everything from redistricting lines to voter precinct waiting lines as central Pennsylvania seeks to hear the majority’s will in the diverse voices of many groups.

Panelists will include William Sloane, former Democratic chief counsel to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Kings College Associate Professor of Political Science David Sosar, and Washington, D.C. attorney Jason Rathod of Whitfield Bryson & Mason, LLP who concentrates the civil rights portion of his practice on violations of due process rights.

“I cannot think of a better time in the Commonwealth for Widener Law to shine a light on these topics, particularly with regard to voter apportionment and how Pennsylvania’s lines are drawn,” Ammons said. “The reality is central Pennsylvania is geographically, economically and politically well situated, and it has a rich blend of racial, ethnic, cultural and religious diversity.”

Ammons is one of only seven African-American female deans currently running a U.S. law school. She began the Dean’s Leadership Forum on Diversity in 2007 with a program on diversity in higher education. Other program topics have included things like diversity in state government and in sports. The forum was designed to provide a safe place for lawyers, students, academicians and nonlawyers to come together to discuss issues of race, gender, class, religion, ethnicity and affection in the context of education, law practice in the private and public sectors, and the wider community.

The 2012 event will begin with continental breakfast and registration at 8:30 a.m. and opening remarks by Ammons at 9 a.m. The program has been approved for three continuing legal education credits for attorneys in Pennsylvania and Delaware, including one ethics credit. The cost to attend for credits is $75 and includes lunch. The program is open to the general public at a cost of $35. Students may attend at no cost, without lunch or materials. To register, or for more information, contact Sandra L. Graeff at 717.541.3965 or