HISTORY of the National Judicial Education Program

  • In 1980, Legal Momentum (then called NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund) established the National Judicial Education Program  to Promote Equality for Women and Men in the Courts and invited the newly formed National Association of Women Judges to become the National Judicial Education Program's (NJEP) co-sponsor.
  • The idea for what became NJEP was first broached at the establishment of Legal Momentum itself in 1970. Making the idea a reality took a decade, however, because of skepticism about the project and its viability. Knowledgeable judges, lawyers and journalists warned that the judiciary would never accept gender bias as a legitimate topic for judicial education. Few believed that the judiciary at large would engage in the self-scrutiny necessary to eliminate such bias.
  • Yet, over the years, NJEP has taken the topic from virtual obscurity to broad-based recognition: in 1986, the findings of the first few Task Forces were the featured educational program at the annual meeting of the Conference of Chief Justices. Gender bias then became grounds for reversal and sanction. 
  • Over the past thirty years, NJEP has utilized a three-fold approach to promote access to the justice system and equality for women and men in the courts: education, (link) publications, (link) and supporting the task forces’ efforts to eradicate gender bias in the courts.