The National LGBTQ+ Bar Association’s
Nuts & Bolts Academy for Judicial Candidates
The LGBTQ+ Bar’s “Nuts & Bolts Academy for Judicial Candidates” seeks to provide interested legal professionals with the tools they need to end up on the other side of the bench. This intensive workshop welcomes legal professionals from all backgrounds and parts of the country, and particularly encourages attorneys of color, transgender attorneys, and women attorneys to participate. The LGBTQ+ Bar believes diverse perspectives bring diverse experiences to the bench – and diverse experiences lead to better judgments.
Our Judicial Nuts & Bolts Academy offers serious candidates planning to seek a judicial position in the next three years – either through appointment or election – with a foundation in those processes, as well as small-group mentoring from current LGBTQ+ judges with experiences in elections as well as nomination and appointment procedures.
Attendees will have significant small-group time with current judges for conversation about the pathway to the specific jurisdictions identified as being of interest, as well as networking time with other prospective candidates. Our faculty will include groundbreaking LGBTQ+ federal judges as well as esteemed LGBTQ+ state and municipal judges, and will dedicate significant discussion time specifically to the federal nominations process.
The 2023 Judicial Nuts & Bolts Academy will be held in conjunction with the 2023 Lavender Law® Conference & Career Fair in Chicago. Only registered Conference attendees are eligible to attend the Academy.
Our 2023 Judicial Nuts & Bolts Academy application is now CLOSED. Please mail firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Confirmed 2023 Faculty Include:
Judge Linda H. Colfax
Judge Linda H. Colfax, a San Francisco Superior Court Judge since 2011, currently sits in the criminal division of the court, and presides over trials. Judge Colfax has also served as a supervising judge of preliminary hearings, a juvenile court judge in both dependency and youth justice, a family court judge, and has presided over both civil and criminal trials. She also sat on her court’s Appellate Division for 3 years and served on the Executive Committee for 4 years. Judge Colfax, a former Vice President of the California Judges Association (CJA), currently co-chairs the Committee on the Elimination of Bias and Inequality. Judge Colfax, a former Vice president of the International Association of LGBTQ Judges, has served on its board for over a decade. Prior to her election to the bench in 2010, Judge Colfax worked as a San Francisco deputy public defender. She was privileged to win her seat during a primary election against 3 other candidates. Judge Colfax, a native of the Midwest, earned her A.B. from Harvard and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. Judge Colfax and her wife, Kristin, who met playing ultimate frisbee in 1995, have been married since 1999*, 2004 and 2008. They have 2 children, 2 dogs and spend their free time outdoors biking, hiking, jogging, climbing, SUPing, Pickleballing, gardening, or just ambling with the dogs.
Judge Mike Jacobs
Judge Jill Rose Quinn
Judge Javier E. Vargas
The Honorable Javier E. Vargas was nominated by Governor Kathy Hochul and confirmed by the Senate for the NYS Court of Claims on June 3, 2022. With that appointment, he became the first openly gay man and Latino LGBTQ+ judge in the Court of Claims. Previously, Judge Vargas served as a Judge in the Family Court of the State of New York, Kings County, appointed in 2015. Between 2013 and 2015, Judge Vargas began his judicial career as a Civil Court Judge assigned to the Housing Part in Bronx County. Prior thereto, Judge Vargas served with distinction for the New York State Unified Court System in various capacities since 1993, including Senior Court Attorney in the New York State Court of Appeals; Principal Law Clerk in Supreme Court and the Appellate Division, Second Department; and Chief Court Attorney for the NYS Supreme Court, Appellate Term, First Department. Judge Vargas received his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, law degree from SUNY Buffalo School of Law, and a Master of Law degree from New York University School of Law in 1993.
Judge Vargas has moderated and lectured on numerous panels of Continuing Legal Education courses in the areas of Domestic Relations, Housing and Family Laws, Domestic Violence, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, diversity/intersectionality and virtual courtroom protocols and evidence presentation. He mentors attorneys and encourages judicial service by presenting and moderating yearly Pathways to the Judiciary programs. Judge Vargas is actively involved with several professional associations and currently holds positions at the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) and its Judicial Division, as secretary, as well as the Latino Judges Association and the International Association of LGBTQ Judges, where he sits as a board member. Among the previous positions he has held are HNBA Regional Deputy President for several years, HNBA Secretary of National Elections; President-Elect of the Puerto Rican Bar Association (PRBA); Chair of the PRBA Scholarship Fund Selection Committee and Committee Member of the LGBT Bar Association Judicial Internship Committee, selecting hundreds of law students scholarship recipients; and Chair of the HNBA-NY Law School-Sin Limites Program, working with a team of HNBA members to mentor dozens of high school and college students on their path to law school. With the HNBA Judicial Division, Judge Vargas has helped organize and chaired the Dispute Settlement Body of the HNBA Uvaldo Herrera Moot Court Competition for the last seven years.
Judge Vargas has received several accolades, including the 2022 President’s Award from the International Association of LGBTQ Judges, 2020 SUNY Law School OutLaw Award, 2018 Spirit Award by the Cervantes Society, 2017 HNBA Latino Judge of the Year and the 2016 Special Recognition Award by the National Hispanic Pre-Law Conference. He is dedicated to a number of other charitable and cultural organizations, such as the Holy Cross Church, Volunteer Lawyers Project, as well as professional bar associations, like the New York City Bar Association, the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York and the NYS Family Court Judges Association.
Judge Jamar K. Walker
Judge Walker received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Following graduation, he began his legal career by serving as a law clerk to the Honorable Raymond A. Jackson, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Upon completion of his clerkship, Judge Walker became a litigation associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Covington & Burling LLP, where his practice focused primarily on products liability and insurance litigation. In 2015, Judge Walker joined the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and was assigned to the Alexandria Division’s Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit. He subsequently served as the unit’s Deputy Chief and Acting Chief. While at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Judge Walker sat on the officewide Diversity Committee; co-founded the Committee on Race, Policing, and Prosecution; and worked as the Alexandria Division’s Hate Crimes Coordinator.
During his time as a prosecutor, Judge Walker received five FBI Service Awards for work in public corruption, wire fraud, and bank fraud cases. In 2020, he was among the National LGBT+ Bar Association’s 40 Under 40 and the National Association of Black Lawyers’ 40 Under 40.
Judge Walker is the 2023 recipient of the University of Virginia School of Law Lambda Law Alliance’s Alvarez-Coughlin Award, which recognizes extraordinary efforts on behalf of the LGBTQ community. He is the first openly LGBTQ+ federal judge in Virginia and the second openly gay Black male Article III judge in the United States.