Dean JoAnne Epps delivered remarks on the continued need for collaboration in the pursuit of diversity at the ABA Midyear Meeting in San Diego, California. Her remarks were made in acceptance of the American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession’s 2016 Spirit of Excellence Award. Dean Epps was one of four recipients selected nationwide for the award.In addition to Dean Epps, the Commission also recognized Hugo Chaviano, Sarah Deer, and Victor M. Marquez.
The Spirit of Excellence Award celebrates the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. Awards are presented to lawyers who excel in their professional settings; who personify excellence on the national, state, or local level; and who have demonstrated a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession.
“JoAnne Epps has had a profound impact on not only Temple University Beasley School of Law, where she serves as dean, but she has also been an influential leader in the city of Philadelphia, her region and in the nation. She embodies the concept of lawyer-leader and symbolizes the Spirit of Excellence Award,” Section Chief Will Gunn said in announcing the award.
Epps has been dean of Temple Law School since 2008 and a member of the faculty since 1985. She is the author and co-author of several books and articles on Evidence and Trial Advocacy. Commemorating Black History Month in February 2015, U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. honored Epps at the U.S. Senate. In March 2015, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter appointed her to chair a newly created Police Community Oversight Board. In July 2015, the National Association of Women Lawyers presented Epps with the M. Ashley Dickerson Award for her work toward diversity in the legal profession.
In 2014, Epps received the Justice Sonia Sotomayor Diversity Award by the Philadelphia Bar Association and in 2009 received the Association’s Sandra Day O’Connor Award for her efforts to advance women in the profession and the community. A three-time honoree by Lawyers of Color Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Black Lawyers in the country, Epps was named by National Jurist Magazine in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 as one of the 25 most influential people in legal education.
She serves on several nonprofit boards, is a member of the Philadelphia Board of Ethics, and is the court-appointed monitor of the settlement of the lawsuit challenging Philadelphia’s stop-and-frisk activity. Epps is a former deputy city attorney for Los Angeles and assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.