JoAnne A. Epps

President, Temple University
Professor of Law

If we want to be sure that our time here has meant something, we must ensure that we have handed off to those coming behind us a commitment – and a passion – to work for the best world possible. For me, this means inspiring young lawyers to understand the exquisite opportunity our profession offers to serve our world while serving our clients and ourselves.
– JoAnne A. Epps

For Professor JoAnne A. Epps, the essence of Temple University’s Beasley School of Law is a place where young lawyers are taught, trained, nurtured, and inspired to become the next generation of leaders in their profession and in our world. It is a vision shaped by more than 30 years of teaching law at Temple and rooted in her service before that as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia and Deputy City Attorney in Los Angeles. At its core are the values that for Epps define the legal profession: service, integrity, and passion.

As Dean of Temple Law School, a position she held from July 2008 until her appointment as Executive Vice President and Provost of Temple University in July 2016, Epps was an outspoken advocate for legal education that emphasized institutional responsiveness over a one-size-fits-all curricular model. National Jurist Magazine named her among the 25 most influential people in legal education for 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, citing her leadership in implementing this approach at Temple. Her commitment to curricular innovation and experiential legal education garnered Temple significant praise, in particular for its innovative first-year experiential courses and nationally recognized clinical opportunities. It also inspired the creation of the Stephen and Sandra Sheller Center for Social Justice at Temple Law School, which introduces students to the many roles that lawyers can play in securing access to civil justice.

Professor Epps’ professional leadership and influence extend far beyond Temple Law School. Long a champion for women and minorities within the profession, she served in numerous roles in service to the legal profession, including leadership roles in the American Bar Association, the National Association of Women Lawyers and the American Law Institute affiliate, ALI-ABA.  In recognition of this service, Epps has been awarded a 2015 Spirit of Excellence Award by the American Bar Association, the 2015 M. Ashley Dickerson Award by the National Association of Women Lawyers, and the 2014 Justice Sonia Sotomayor Diversity Award by the Philadelphia Bar Association. She is a three-time honoree by Lawyers of Color Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Black lawyers in the country. In 2009, the Philadelphia Bar Association recognized Epps’ efforts by honoring her with the Sandra Day O’Connor Award, conferred annually on “a woman attorney who has demonstrated superior legal talent, achieved significant legal accomplishments and has furthered the advancement of women in both the profession and the community.” In addition to serving Temple Law students, Epps is a principal of The Red Bee Group, and serves on the board of directors of both public and nonprofit entities.

Epps’ passion and integrity have earned her respect as a community leader as well. From 2015 to 2017, Epps served as inaugural chair of Philadelphia’s Police Oversight Board formed in response to a recent Justice Department report about Philadelphia police shootings. Appointed by the United States District Court, from 2011 to 2019 Epps served as monitor of the City of Philadelphia’s compliance with the settlement of Bailey v. City of Philadelphia, litigation challenging the City’s stop-and-frisk procedures. She has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Defender Association of Philadelphia since 1991, and from 1999 to 2006 served as Board President. In 2001, Professor Epps was appointed by Philadelphia Mayor John Street to serve as Chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Police Discipline. She has served as a member of the Pennsylvania Judicial Independence Commission, a member of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Committee to Promote Fairness in the Judiciary, a member of the Pennsylvania Commission for Justice Initiatives, a member of the Advisory Council for the Pennsylvania Prison Society and a member of the Advisory Board of the Public Interest Law Center. She became an officer of the Pennsylvania Women’s Forum in 2010 and in 2013 became the President of that organization. She also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Committee of Seventy and a member of the Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia Advisory Board. For these and other significant contributions to the Commonwealth, in 2012 Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett named Epps a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania.

Like many gifted teachers, Professor Epps has not limited her teaching to the law school. Rather, her passion for both law and teaching has carried her around the globe, teaching advocacy skills and promoting the rule of law in a variety of international arenas. She has taught advocacy skills to prosecutors at the United Nation’s ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda) in Arusha, Tanzania. Professor Epps has also taught courses in Beijing, China to Chinese lawyers enrolled in Temple’s LL.M. program and to lawyers from the Beijing Supreme People’s Procuratorate (the Chinese Prosecutor’s Office). In anticipation of the 2009 re-institution of jury trials in criminal cases in Japan, along with Temple Law School Professor Edward Ohlbaum, Professor Epps taught Jury Trial Advocacy to 20,000+ members of the Japanese Bar Association. And Professor Epps was the only academic member of a nine-person American team which provided training to Sudanese lawyers representing victims of the Darfur crisis. The training included substantive International Criminal Law, with a special focus on practice before the International Criminal Court, as well as Evidence and Advocacy. Each of these pursuits has been grounded in Epps’ firm belief that the rule of law is one of the best tools at our disposal for establishing peaceful, just societies and for relieving human suffering.

A native of Cheltenham, PA, Professor Epps received her B.A. from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in 1973 and is a 1976 graduate of Yale Law School. She lives with her husband in New Jersey.


J.D. (), Yale Law School
B.A. (), Trinity College

Research & Teaching Areas

Areas of Expertise

Selected Publications

Publications and Media Appearances

Awards and Recognition

  • Justice Sonia Sotomayor Diversity Award (2014)
  • Minority Business Leader Award (2011)
  • Torchbearer Award (2011) awarded for Outstanding Leadership in Law
  • Wiley A. Branton Award (2009)
  • Sandra Day O’Connor Award (2009)
All Awards and Recognition

Service to the Profession

  • Member, NAWL Foundation Board, 2012
  • Member, Minority Bar Committee, Pennsylvania Bar Association, 2009- Present
  • Planning Committee, AALS Section for the Law School Dean Program at the 2010 Annual Meeting, 2009
  • Co-Chair, NAWL Committee for the Evaluation of Supreme Court Nominees, 2009
  • Member, Advisory Board, “Women’s Power Summit on Law and Leadership", 2008-2009
  • Planning Committee, Honorary Co-Chair, ALI-ABA/ACLEA Critical Issues Summit, “Equipping Our Lawyers: Law School Education, Continuing Legal Education, and Legal Practice in the 21st Century”, 2008-2009
  • Planning Committee, AALS June 2008 Evidence Mid-Year Meeting, 2007-2008
  • Executive Committee, AALS Evidence Section, appointed January, 2008
  • Member, Board of Directors, Defender Organization of Philadelphia, 1990-present
  • Board Secretary, Defender Organization of Philadelphia, 1992-1994
  • Vice President, Defender Organization of Philadelphia, 1995-1999
  • President, Defender Organization of Philadelphia, 1999-2006
  • Pennsylvania Judicial Independence Commission, 2006-present
  • ALI-ABA Committee on Continuing Professional Education (equivalent to the “Board of Directors”), 1997-2003
  • Advisory Committee, ALI-ABA Program Committee, 1996-2011
  • Philadelphia Bar Association Committee to Promote Fairness in the Courts, 2002-2007
  • Eastern District of Pennsylvania Magistrate Judge Selection Committee (appointed by Chief Judge Harvey Bartle) (selected Lynn Sitarski), 2007
  • Pennsylvania Justice Commission, 2004-2005
  • Outside Reviewer, Tenure cases (Howard University School of Law and University of Tennessee School of Law), 2002-2003
  • Speaker, LSAC Newcomers’ Workshop, 2002
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association Gender Task Force, Member and Vice-Chair, 1996-2000
  • Race & Ethnicity Commission of the Third Circuit Task Force on Equal Treatment in the Courts; Co-Chair, Issues in Criminal Justice, 1994-1997
  • Philadelphia Bar Association Judicial Award Committee (determined criteria and recipient), 1995-1996
  • Barristers' Association Judicial Evaluation Committee, Co-Chair, 1993-1994
  • Third Circuit Lawyers' Advisory Committee (appointed by Chief Judge of the Third Circuit), 1990-1993
  • Vice Chair, Third Circuit Lawyers' Advisory Committee, 1991-1992
  • Chair, Third Circuit Lawyers' Advisory Committee, 1992-1993
  • Board of Directors, Juvenile Law Center, 1984-1990

American Bar Association Service

  • Chair, Section of Litigation, Overcriminalization Task Force, 2011-2013
  • House Committee on Technology and Communications, 2011-2012
  • Section of Litigation, Task Force on Implicit Bias, 2010-2012
  • Commission on the Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Profession and Legal Needs, 2009-2010
  • Standing Committee on Constitution and Bylaws, 2008-2011
  • Section of Litigation Leadership, Special Committee on the Litigation Institute for Trial Training, 2008-2010
  • Committee of the House of Delegates, Select Committee, 2008-2009
  • Section of Litigation Leadership, Reserves, 2008
  • Section of Litigation Leadership, Segment Value Membership, 2008
  • Association Nominating Committee, 2005-2008
  • Steering Committee of Nominating Committee, 2006-2008
  • Planning Committee, Section of Litigation Annual Conference, 2007-2008
  • Standing Committee on CLE, 2004-2007
  • Section of Litigation Delegate to American Bar Association House of Delegates (have spoken several times on issues of major ABA policy), 2003-2013
  • Host Committee, 2002 Mid-Year Meeting, 2001-2002
  • Section of Litigation Council, 2002-2003
  • Section of Litigation Co-Director of Divisions, 2000-2001
  • Section of Litigation Co-Director of Divisions, 1998-2000 and 2001-2002
  • Co-Chair, Section of Litigation Committee on Training the Advocate, 1995-1998

Civic and Public Service

  • Member, Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia Advisory Board, 2012-present
  • Pennsylvania Women’s Forum, 2009-present
  • Treasurer, Pennsylvania Women’s Forum, 2011
  • Vice President, Pennsylvania Women’s Forum, 2012
  • President, Pennsylvania Women’s Forum, 2013
  • Independent Outside Auditor, Philadelphia Stop-and-Frisk Procedures, 2011-present
  • Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Pro Bono Task Force, 2011-present
  • Board of Directors, Committee of Seventy, 2010-2014
  • Co-Chair, Steering Committee, Philadelphia District Attorney Elect R. Seth Williams’ Transition Team, November 2009-January 2010
  • Advisory Council, The Pennsylvania Prison Society, 2009-present
  • Co-Chair, Vision 2020 Topic Areas, Vision 2020 Meeting: “365 Days and Counting”, 2009-2010
  • Advisory Board, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, 2009-present
  • Support Center for Child Advocates Volunteer, 2007-present
  • Board of Directors, Women’s Way of Philadelphia, 2002-2005
  • The Content of our Character, Group Leader (a civic initiative to introduce to teenage students the importance of honor and morality as life creeds), 2002
  • Chair, Mayor’s Task Force on Police Discipline (conducted hearings and issued Report), March -November 2001
  • Honorary Chair, ACLU Annual Dinner, 2001
  • Board of Directors, Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Defender Organization (later “Capital Case Resource Center”), 1994-1997
  • Vice President, Board of Directors, Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Defender Organization (later “Capital Case Resource Center”), 1995-1997
  • Board of Trustees, Trinity College, 1989-1994
  • Member, Presidential Search Committee, Board of trustees, Trinity College, 1990-1991
  • Member, Executive Committee, Board of Trustees, Trinity College, 1990-1994
  • Chair, Committee on Student Life, Board of Trustees, Trinity College, 1990-1992
  • Chair, Committee on the Board, Board of Trustees, Trinity College, 1992-1994
  • Chair, SEPTA Ad Hoc Committee on the Homeless (Committee was formed following a much-publicized incident culminating in the arrest of a Philadelphia City Councilwoman. I drafted the committee report), 1993
  • Board of Directors, ACLU of Philadelphia, 1986-1989

Selected Speeches and Presentations

  • “Cracking the Code: Everything You Should Have Learned in Kindergarten (But Didn’t)” at Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter, American Council on Education Women in Higher Education Network Meeting (Keynote Speaker), 2012
  • Commencement Ceremony, Philadelphia Supervision to Aid Re-entry (STAR) Program (Speaker), 2010
  • Commencement Ceremony, The Young Women’s Leadership School at E. W. Rhodes High School (Commencement Address), 2010
  • Regional Summit for Women in-House Counsel, Capture your Power – Your Role in Advancing Women in the Legal Profession (co-sponsored by the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession and DELVACCA) (Introductory Remarks), 2010
  • U.S. Attorneys Office: Black History Month (Keynote Speaker), 2010
  • Dr. John Hope Franklin Symposium, Trinity College and the Greater Hartford NAACP (Keynote Speaker), 2009
  • Women in the Profession Summit: Then, Now and Where Do We Go From Here?, National Conference for the Minority Lawyer, American Bar Association (Keynote Speaker), 2009
  • Annual Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. Memorial Public Interest Lecture, Philadelphia Bar Association, 2009
  • Appeared and Testified, Senate Committee on the Judiciary Hearings on the Nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to be Associate Justice to the United States Supreme Court, 2009
  • 21st Annual Minority Attorney Conference: Minority Lawyers as Community Builders and Social Engineers, Pennsylvania Bar Association, (Keynote Speaker), 2009
  • Leadership Speaker Series (Inaugural Speaker), The Young Women’s Leadership School, Rhodes High School, Philadelphia, PA, 2008
  • Naturalization Ceremonies, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Keynote Speaker, 2008
  • White & Williams, LLP, Virginia Barton Wallace Award Breakfast (Speaker), 2008
  • Darfur Lawyers Training Project: London, England, (jointly sponsored by the American Bar Association and the MacArthur Foundation), Curriculum Planner and Faculty Member (trained Sudanese lawyers to represent Darfur victims in The Hague), 2007, 2008
  • “An Evening with Experts” (jointly sponsored by Citibank and Sherman Topping Law Firm) (Panelist), 2008
  • Pepper Hamilton, LLP, 3rd Annual “Celebrate Diversity” Event (Keynote Speaker), 2008
  • AALS New Teachers’ Workshop (Speaker), 2007
  • Presentation on American Clinical Legal Education, presented to Bosnia University and University of Mostar (Bosnia) (Invited by United States Department of Justice) (co-presenter, with Ohlbaum), 2007
  • “Trial Evidence in the Federal Courts,” Presenter, 2003, 2004, 2007
  • “Successful Public Speaking”, Moderator at ABA Annual Meeting, 2007
  • “Current Impeachment Issues” (Presenter) at “Trial Evidence in the Federal Courts”, ALI-ABA, 2007
  • “Jury Trial Advocacy: Techniques of Persuasion,” Presented to 20,000 members of Japanese Bar Association (full-day program) (co-presenter, with Ohlbaum), 2006 and, to smaller audience, in 2005
  • “Decline of the Federal Civil Trial”, Stanford Law Review Symposium, “The Civil Trial: Adaptation and Alternatives,” Symposium Moderator, 2005
  • Symposium, “The Vanishing Trial”, Co-Chair & Moderator, 2004
  • United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Professional Training Program (Arusha, Tanzania), Faculty Member, January 2003
  • “Litigating in the 21st Century: The Admissibility and Persuasion of Electronic Evidence”, Panelist/Presenter, 2003
  • “Brave New World of Lawyers’ Ethics” (Panelist/Presenter), 2003
  • “Legal Education, American Style,”(Presentation to Japanese legal educators. Included demonstration of Socratic method, technology in courtroom/classroom, Trial Advocacy teaching methods, and a demonstration of critique (Co-Presenter, with Ohlbaum), 2003
  • Naturalization Ceremonies, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Keynote Speaker, January 2003, October 2001
  • “The Art of Argument”, Columbia, South Carolina Inn of Court (Co-Presenter), 2001
  • “Judges’ View of Cross-Examination,” Moderator, 2001
  • ABA Trial Practice Institute, Oxford, England, Moderator, July 2000
  • 21st Century Litigation (ALI-ABA), Speaker, 2000
  • “The Art of Argument”, International Association of Defense Counsel Midyear Meeting, Presenter, 2000
  • “Playing the Race and/or Gender Card,” Pennsylvania Bar Association Commission on Women Annual Meeting, Presenter and Panelist, 1999
  • “The Art of Persuasion: Courtroom Performance Workshop,” ABA Section of Litigation Meeting, Co-Presenter, 1999
  • “The Art of Argument,” American Inns of Court, Houston, TX, Co-Presenter, 1999
  • “Making an Impact: Effective Professional Tactics,” Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Presenter, 1998
  • “The Definitive Update on the Federal Rules of Evidence”, Panelist/Presenter, ABA Litigation Section Annual Meeting Plenary Session, 1998
  • “Judicial Independence and Accountability”, Moderator and Program Planner, ABA Litigation Section Leadership Meeting, 1998
  • Race and Gender Symposium, Philadelphia Judicial Council, Presenter, 1998
  • “Propositions 48 & 16: The NCAA Scholar-Athlete”, Panelist/Presenter, Annual Conference, National Bar Association Women Lawyers’ Division (Philadelphia Chapter), 1997
  • “Issues Confronting the Black Scholar-Athlete,” National Conference, Association of Black Women in Higher Education, Panelist/Presenter, 1997
  • “Litigators Under Fire,” Panelist, ALI/ABA Satellite Program, 1997
  • Federal Rules of Evidence Review, United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Presenter (Full Day Program), 1997
  • “The Judiciary Under Attack: Regulating Our Profession in Challenging Times,” Maryland Attorney General’s Office, Annual Attorneys’ Meeting, Keynote Speaker, 1997
  • “Propositions 48 & 16: The NCAA Scholar-Athlete,” Annual Conference, National Bar Association Women Lawyers’ Division (Philadelphia Chapter), Panelist/Presenter, 1997
  • “The New Civil Trial Standards,” Philadelphia Bench Bar Conference, Speaker/Panel Member, 1996
  • “Evidence & Advocacy for Lawyers”, U.S. Attorney’s Office, E.D.PA (co-presenter), 1996
  • “Presenting & Destroying Expert Testimony after Daubert,” ABA Section of Litigation Annual Meeting, Moderator and Program Chair, 1996
  • “The Persuasion Principles: Negotiating for Women,” Philadelphia Bar Education Center, Speaker, 1996
  • “The Woman Advocate” Conference, Commentator and Conference Planning Committee Member, 1995. Also a speaker at the 1993 and 1994 Conferences.
  • “Pride and Prejudice: Advocacy for Women Litigators,” Philadelphia Bar Association, Speaker and Conference Planning Committee Member, 1995