Former Phila. Judge Richard Klein receives PBA's 'Clarity Award'

By Jon Campisi | Nov 30, 2013

Law professionals understand how difficult it can be for laymen to

comprehend legalese.

So much so, in fact, that one organization has dedicated an annual award to those in the field who do an exemplary job at translating legal speak into everyday speak.

Last week, the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Plain English Committee presented its 2013 Clarity Award to Richard B. Klein, a former judge who sat on both the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Klein, who currently serves as a member of the Dispute Resolution Institute, a private alternative dispute resolution group based in Philadelphia, was what the PBA calls a “leading force” in the creation of the Plain English Committee 15 years ago.

The former jurist served as the panel’s first co-chair.

The award was presented to Klein during a recent ceremony at the Holiday Inn Harrisburg East, according to the PBA.

The award, the PBA stated, was created by the committee to recognize “those who have done the most to foster plain English in the legal field.”

“The committee’s mission is to reward and encourage efforts to improve access to the law by demystifying legal language and to enable lawyers to better counsel clients and increase respect for the legal profession by removing the barriers of legalese,” reads a statement on the PBA’s website.

Klein is no stranger to accolades. He was this year’s recipient of the PBA Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee’s Sir Francis Bacon Award, which is given to someone who excels in the field of alternative dispute resolution and has made a great impact on ADR in the commonwealth, according to the PBA.

Klein also serves as a member of the PBA Appellate Advocacy Committee and he previously served on the American Bar Association’s Plain English Committee.

A Harvard Law School graduate, Klein is the educational leader for legal study tours sponsored by the Corporation for Professional Conferences, according to the PBA.

In that role, he has led trips to Russia, China, Greece, Egypt, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Vietnam and South Africa.

Klein joined the Dispute Resolution Institute in early 2010, after spending 36 years on the bench, according to his professional biography.

Twenty-eight of those years were spent as a trial court judge in Philadelphia.

Klein, who is recognized as having been the youngest trial judge in Pennsylvania history, distinguished himself with “clear, to-the-point opinions, always urging the court to consider its role in assuring that litigants were treated fairly and the substantive law was followed,” his biography reads.

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