Judicial Training Program

Click here to see a list of upcoming Judicial Trainings.

The Williams Institute’s Judicial Training Program provides state and federal judges with substantive training on legal issues impacting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. The goal of our training program is to provide judges with the most up-to-date legal and policy information they will need when considering sexual orientation law issues in cases coming before them. The Williams Institute’s judicial training program draws on the intellectual and material resources of UCLA, one of the world’s leading research universities.

Courts across the country are increasingly considering sexual orientation law issues – such as workplace discrimination, same-sex marriage, and parental rights – but very few state and federal judges have expertise on these issues. Most judges did not have the opportunity to take a sexual orientation law course when they were in law school and, to date, there have been only a handful of judicial trainings focused on sexual orientation law.

Many sexual orientation law issues present relatively new and complex constitutional questions or require knowledge of the most recent empirical research and data. Judges have had to rely on their own efforts to learn about this rapidly developing field and the often innovative arguments that have been used in LGBT rights cases. Without knowledge of current legal theories and relevant data, judges may lack the legal knowledge to make decisions regarding LGBT rights. For example, many judges may not be familiar with arguments that non-biological parents should have their rights recognized if they act as “functional parents” for their children, or cases holding that public schools have a general duty under negligence theory to protect LGBT students from harassment and violence. The Williams Institute’s substantive trainings on sexual orientation law provide judges with the legal theories and relevant data needed to make decisions regarding these issues.

The Williams Institute has developed a new training program for judges on LGBT domestic violence issues. The program will examine the unique obstacles that LGBT victims face when they turn to the legal system for assistance, identify strategies to reduce those obstacles, and help judges to craft protection orders and other legal remedies that address the particular safety and economic needs of LGBT victims.

Training Faculty

The Williams Institute’s judicial training faculty has extensive experience with teaching sexual orientation law. In addition to teaching law students, Professors Bradley Sears, William Rubenstein and Todd Brower have conducted several well-received judicial trainings and have given hundreds of sexual orientation and HIV/AIDS law presentations and trainings to lawyers and members of the community.

Other Williams Institute faculty that have participated in trainings for either lawyers or judges include UCLA School of Law Professors Christine Littleton, Kenneth Karst, Devon Carbado, Cheryl Harris, Russell Robinson, Gia Lee, and Grace Blumberg, as well as Dean Erwin Chemerinsky (Irvine), Professors Chai Feldblum (Georgetown), Suzanne Goldberg (Columbia), Joanna Grfossman (Hofstra), Janet Halley (Harvard), Darren Hutchinson (American), Pam Karlan (Stanford), Laura Kessler (Utah), Andrew Koppelman (Northwestern), Holning Lau (North Carolina), Joan Shaffner (George Washington), Laura Spitz (Colorado), Edward Stein (Cardozo), and Kenji Yoshino (NYU).

Cost of Trainings

The Williams Institute will pay all costs for the content of its judicial training programs, including travel costs for the speakers. Depending on the location of the training, co-sponsorship, and whether or not the training is part of a larger conference, the Williams Institute may either pay for items beyond this, such as any special needs and venue costs, or anticipate that those costs will be covered by the overall conference or in-state judicial educators.

Types of Training Offered by the Williams Institute

The Williams Institute offers a variety of training formats, with the goal of making our judicial trainings as accessible to as many state and federal judges as possible. Our training formats include:

• Live training sessions as part of ongoing trainings and conferences

Working in partnership with judicial educators for state and federal judges, the Williams Institute offers panels, workshops, and speakers that can be included in the agenda of existing trainings and conferences. We find this format reaches the widest possible audience and is the most likely to attract judges who do not already have a particular interest in the subject matter and who have a variety of opinions about gay rights issues.

The Williams Institute also provides curriculum development and training expertise for states and judicial education organizations who wish to augment their anti-bias and fairness programming on sexual orientation and transgender topics.

• Live and remote stand-alone trainings

The Williams Institute also organizes independent trainings (which are not part of larger conferences that include other topics) both at UCLA School of Law and throughout the country. For example, each February the Williams Institute holds a full-day “Annual Update” on sexual orientation law at UCLA School of Law. The faculty at our Annual Updates has included several state supreme court justices, federal circuit judges, well-known legal scholars and lawyers, and foreign, state and federal legislators. Over one hundred and fifty judges, lawyers, and community members attend the Williams Institute’s Annual Update each year.

• Distribution of The Dukeminier Awards journal to state and federal judges

The Williams Institute publishes The Dukeminier Awards, a prize journal recognizing the most important pieces of sexual orientation law scholarship published each year. A central goal of the journal is to provide easy access to each year’s best scholarly materials for those outside of legal academia, including judges, lawyers, and legislators. The journal is distributed free-of-charge to the chambers of all federal judges and state supreme court justices. Individual judges and other courts can also request to be put on the journal’s free distribution list.

• Williams Institute Sexual Orientation Law Moot Court Competition

The Williams Institute Moot Court Competition is the only national competition dedicated exclusively to the areas of sexual orientation and gender identity law. This year’s competition will provide an opportunity for competitors to write an appellate brief on a current legal topic and to argue the case before a panel of judges. The competition is designed to promote and recognize the finest oral and written advocacy on a significant problem in sexual orientation and gender identity law.

• Web-based trainings

The Williams Institute is currently developing judicial trainings that will be available on our website. These programs will include written and video trainings. Certification will be provided to judges who complete the trainings, and the programs are being designed to meet the training requirements of a number of states. Our first web-based trainings will be available in 2010.

Click here to see a list of upcoming Judicial Trainings.

Click here to see a list of past Judicial Trainings.


 Todd Brower
Judicial Training Consultant
Email: tbrower@wsulaw.edu
Voice: (310) 267-4382
Fax: (310) 825-7270