Judge Alice Beck Dubow was sworn in as the newest member of the Pennsylvania Superior Court in the same courtroom where her mother, Judge Phyllis Beck, was sworn in as the first woman appellate court judge of Pennsylvania in 1983.
Judge Alice Beck Dubow, a longtime member of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, became the newest member of the Pennsylvania Superior Court when she was officially sworn into office Jan. 15, at City Hall.
For Beck Dubow, the ceremony was the culmination of her involvement in what has become almost like the family business: The courtroom where her ceremony took place is the same one in which her mother, Judge Phyllis Beck, was sworn in as the first woman appellate court judge of Pennsylvania in 1983.
Beck Dubow, 56, defeated her Republican opponent, Judge Emil Giordano of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, in November’s race for the court’s lone open seat.
“As a Superior Court judge, I will interpret laws in Pennsylvania,” Beck Dubow said in an interview before her swearing in. “My interpretation of the laws can make a difference in people’s lives. I have a sense of passion for individuals and an understanding how the law impacts me and at the end of the day these are all Jewish principles.”
Her father, Dr. Aaron Beck, is a psychiatrist and a professor emeritus in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. He is regarded as the father of cognitive therapy, and his theories are widely used in the treatment of clinical depression.
Her mother reflected on her daughter’s accomplishment and is proud she followed in her footsteps.
“It’s a position she worked very hard for and wanted,” the elder Beck said. “I think as parents we set an example. We ran an honorable hardworking family.”
Beck Dubow, the granddaughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, lives in Andorra with her husband, Rob, with whom she has two children — Ben, 27, and Rebecca, 24 — who live in New York. She and her husband belong to Congregation Or Ami in Lafayette Hill.
Beck Dubow grew up in Wynnewood, where her family belonged to Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El. Her own involvement in the Jewish community really blossomed when she joined Or Ami 25 years ago.
She served on the synagogue’s board of trustees from 2005 to 2008 and attended the Saturday morning Torah class regularly from 2001 to 2011, and still goes occasionally today.
“I like the rabbi,” she said of Rabbi Kenneth Carr. “I thought they provided a good Jewish education for my kids.”
“I am delighted that Judge Beck Dubow was re-elected,” Carr said. “In my experience with her, I have found her to be a very thoughtful, intelligent person of great integrity, who is both passionate and compassionate, and who pursues her own continued learning.”
Her yearning to join the legal profession began when she was in college at the University of Pennsylvania. Although she didn’t know what she wanted to pursue, seeing her mother raise four kids and work as an attorney influenced her. It was unusual for women in the 1960s to be employed, let alone be a lawyer, she noted.
This inspired her to follow in her mother’s footsteps. “I always seemed to find the practice of law engaging,” Beck Dubow said.
With a degree from Penn Law, she started her legal career in 1984 as a clerk for a judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Bucks County before taking a position with Duane Morris and Heckscher, practicing commercial litigation.
In 1992, Beck Dubow began her public service as an assistant city solicitor for Philadelphia. She was eventually promoted to divisional deputy city solicitor and developed an expertise in tax law.
In 2000, she became a lawyer for Drexel University, eventually becoming the school’s deputy general counsel. In 2007, she was elected to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where her tenure included presiding over cases concerning abused and neglected children, personal injury and malpractice cases and criminal trials.
“Becoming a trial court judge is just the continuation of being able to perform a public service,” she said. “What really motivated me was having pro bono cases where I could go into the courtroom — it was really satisfying giving a voice to somebody who didn’t have a voice.”