New Jersey Law Journal’s Diverse Attorneys of the Year
New Jersey Law Journal’s
DIVERSE ATTORNEYS OF THE YEAR
As noted in the Law Journal’s November 4, 2019 supplement honoring Judge Travis Francis and 14 other honorees, Judge Francis “wrapped up a distinguished 25-year judicial career, including a decade as Middlesex County’s assignment judge. . . . Following his many accomplishments on the bench over the years – he was presiding chancery judge prior to becoming assignment judge, and sat on and led numerous Supreme Court committees – Francis remains ‘a frequent lecturer and is called upon to speak to diverse audiences across the state and country.’”
Judge Francis provided the following answers to the Law Journal for its Diverse Attorneys of the Year supplement:
What are your proudest professional achievements over the last couple of years?
My proudest professional achievements have been to serve as a member of the New Jersey Judiciary for 25 years. I am proud to have been assigned to every division as a trial judge including the Presiding Judge of General Equity. My proudest professional achievement is having served as the Middlesex County Assignment Judge for the last ten years of my judicial career. I am now proud and pleased to be serving as Of Counsel to Riker Danzig, and helping to continue their strong commitment to diversity.
What has been your experience with diversity in the profession, and how does it factor in to your day-to-day work as an attorney?
During my tenure as Assignment Judge and as a member of the Judicial Council, I was in a position to influence and impact the New Jersey Judiciary as it developed policies and programs that addressed diversity from an institutional perspective. I served for many years as a member of the Supreme Court Committee on Minority Concerns and chaired the Juvenile Justice Subcommittee thereof. I also chaired the committee of the Judicial Council that developed the New Jersey Judiciary Language Access Policy. I have witnessed the evolution of judicial perspectives on issues surrounding diversity, particularly in the State Courts reflected in staffing patterns, personnel policies and judicial attitudes. I am proud to have been an integral part of the ongoing process of developing initiatives within the judiciary that embraces diversity as an added value in carrying out the mission and purpose of the institution. The judiciary self-monitors on issues of diversity in addition to soliciting court user data to capture public perspectives that often include how the public perceives the diverse nature of the courts.
What can organizations employing lawyers do to better address diversity?
Any entity that employs lawyers should be serious about maintaining a staff population that reflects diversity. Organizations should evaluate and survey perspectives within the organization regarding diversity issues. The implementation of training programs focusing on diversity issues that uniquely impact historically-protected groups should be employed. Organizations should form committees that focus on diversity and, in their efforts to increase diversity within their ranks, employ innovative recruitment techniques.
Name a mentor, or someone you admire, and why.
I consider former Supreme Court Justices James Coleman, John Wallace and Rivera Soto and former Assignment Judge Lawrence Lawson as mentors and friends. They have always provided me with valuable counsel and advice.
What is your best advice for someone looking to make an impact in the legal profession?
Someone seeking to enter the legal profession should be prepared to work extremely hard, put in long hours and always be prepared to listen, learn and keep an open mind toward constructive criticism. Develop a passion for the law and treat it as an ever-developing work in progress. I believe that when entering the field of law, one should have a perspective on what role they see the law playing in the larger society. I have always believed that the law is the most effective tool for effecting social change, that society benefits and grows with social change, and without the same a society becomes stagnant and ultimately obsolete.