H. Alexander Manuel is the current chair of the American Bar Association’s National Conference of the Administrative Law Judiciary (NCALJ) through August, 2021. A distinct conference within the Judicial Division, NCALJ works to enhance the status and competence of federal and state administrative judiciary members and to ensure the quality and efficiency of the delivery of justice through administrative tribunals.
Judge Manuel has served for 16 years at both the federal and state levels, as an administrative judge with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commonwealth of Virginia, respectively. He is a former partner with Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro of Washington, D.C., and Meserve, Mumper & Hughes of Los Angeles, where he specialized in bank regulatory matters, including representation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
A veteran of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, Alex traces his ancestry to Virginia relatives who served in World War I. He spent his childhood as a military brat — born on an Army base in Yokohama, Japan in the early 1950’s to an African American father and Japanese mother. He, along with six brothers and sisters, lived on numerous U.S. Army bases, including Fort Ord, Monterey.
Judge Manuel recognizes that a significant portion of the work of the administrative judiciary impacts minority communities inasmuch as many federal ALJs adjudicate social security, immigration and housing issues while state ALJs adjudicate workers compensation, unemployment and labor issues. He decided to pursue a legal career during middle school during the 1960s, when civil rights issues were in the daily headlines.
Alex finds great satisfaction in his work for HUD, where he handles federally insured mortgage disputes, debt collection and lender liability claims and emphasizes the importance of achieving fair outcomes which directly impact lives of individuals before him. He is aware that while African Americans comprise 13% of the population, they do not yet comprise 13% of lawyers and judges. For this reason, Alex believes that lawyers and judges should engage youth to consider the practice of law. He envisions a justice system diverse enough that it becomes common for people to come before judges who look like themselves. Toward this goal, he regularly volunteers in District of Columbia area high schools.
He is a long-time member of the National Bar Association and its local affiliate, the Washington Bar Association, where he has served on the board, and as chair of its Judicial Council.
Alex hopes to mobilize the ABA to convince congress to establish a judicial federal central panel. Cases currently pending in the federal courts seek to challenge the independence of the administrative judiciary, and he supports efforts to reform the federal administrative judiciary.
Patricia B. Miles is an administrative law judge at the California Public Utilities Commission. This post is part of the ABA Administrative Law Section Series Celebrating Public Service; all the posts in the series are collected here.