Meet Leonard Rivera, Esq. , LL.M.
From the Community.
For the Community.
In my 32-years of experience, I’ve found that the best judges are patient, compassionate, and fair. The best judges not only thoroughly know the law, but also have the ability to apply the law without bias. These judges draw from their backgrounds and experiences as lawyers and as active members of the communities in which they serve. This is the type of judge I wish to be if elected to the Chester County Court of Common Pleas.
I bring to the bench an even temperament, compassionate listening, and experiential wisdom. I’ve developed these traits over years of service in the courtroom and in my community. As a lawyer, I’ve learned to expertly navigate emotionally-charged and complex family, criminal, and civil law matters. I routinely advise misrepresented litigants. As a defense attorney, I courageously stand up for fair application of the law and sentencing standards. I’m committed to serving those for whom English is their second language, helping them navigate the complex and often confusing judicial system. I’ve led the state committee to develop certified interpreters for court.
From the courtroom to the District Attorney’s Office to members of the bar, I’m known throughout the legal community in Chester County for my depth of legal knowledge; I’m considered consistent, smart, and fair by my peers. Everyone who works with me recognizes that I treat all people with the dignity and respect they deserve.
In the 1940s, my parents, Eliot and Anna, moved to Brooklyn, New York from Puerto Rico. My father and mother give from their hearts; they are truly humble helpers. They live the golden rule—do to others what you would want done to you. As a child, I remember them helping to raise five nieces and nephews in the New York City projects when my aunt became ill. For me, professionally and personally, their example means treating all I encounter with respect, honesty and integrity.
My father, Eliot, served our country as a US Marine. My mother, Anna, served her community as a Spanish-language interpreter. Tía Anna is the true Rivera family matriarch, and to this day, she is sought out for guidance and support by generations of nieces, nephews, cousins, and more. My parents are greatly involved in the Latino community and encourage me to always be committed to my cultural roots.
My parents instilled in my older brother and me the value of hard work and education as a means to lift yourself up and build a better future for yourself and your community. They were immensely proud when I became the first person in my family to graduate from college. I might have been the first, but I wasn’t the last; my mother earned her college degree in her 50’s. I continue my family’s focus on education by mentoring community students who are interested in law, and by supporting scholarship programs for Latino students.
My father was a truck driver. You can’t find a person with a harder work ethic than Eliot. He came out of retirement many times and finally retired in his 80’s from the maintenance department at West Chester University. My mother became a certified interpreter for the Chester County Court of Common Pleas and Child Youth and Family Services, where I now serve on the Advisory Board. I like to think that I’m following in her footsteps. If elected as Judge on the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, I will bring my parents’ values of integrity, service and commitment to the bench.
Chester County is my home. I have lived here for 29 years. My wife, Shannon, and I have raised our three children in Kennett Square. Volunteer work and community advocacy is part of the fabric of who I am. I want to make Chester County a welcoming and supportive place for all members of our community—a place where we can all grow and achieve our dreams.
Ways I serve Chester County
- PA Interbranch for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness—Chair (2009 to present)
- Chester Water Authority Board—Secretary (2012-2017, 2019 to present)
- Grand Jury Defense Counsel
- Technical College High School, Pennock’s Bridge Campus’ Occupational Advisory Committee (2020 to present)
- Advisory Committee for Children, Youth and Family Services (December 2021 to present)
- Chester County Arbitration Board
- La Comunidad Hispana Board—Past Secretary and Past Vice President (1997 to 2003 and 2009 to 2015)
- Member of the Chester County Democratic Committee’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee
- Member of the Kennett Area Democrats Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee
- Mentor and Fundraising for the Garage
- Coach for local recreational children’s sports
- Longwood Rotary International–Current Member and Past President (2008 to present)
- Kennett High School Mock Trial Coach (2007 to 2018)
- Chester County Latino Luncheon—Founder and Host (2000 to present)
- Al Dia Community Impact award
- Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow (3x)
- Main Line Today Super Lawyer
- Mock Trial Coach Award in recognition for years of service as coach of the Kennett High School Mock Trial Team
Experience that you can trust.
I’m the most experienced litigator currently running for Judge on the Court of Common Pleas. I have practiced law for over 32 years. After graduating from The Dickinson School of Law at The Pennsylvania State University in 1990, I was a public defender. I’ve further honed my trial advocacy skills by earning a Master’s Degree in Trial Advocacy from the James E. Beasley School of Law at Temple University in 2008. I am the only candidate for Judge on the Court of Common Pleas with this advanced degree.
In my practice, I represent a diverse range of clients in business matters, family law, estate planning, real estate, and criminal situations. My background will be an asset to the Court as family law and criminal law are the vast majority of cases that appear before the Chester County Court of Common Pleas.
I was admitted to practice in front of the US Supreme Court, and the Chester County Court Administrator recently requested my presence as standby counsel for a grand jury investigation. I’ve also served on arbitration panels.
I empathize with clients facing difficult situations under much stress. My experience and education combined with compassion for my clients sets the foundation for being a lawyer with ethics and integrity—one who treats my clients as if they were my own family members.
I’ve received awards including the Main Line Today Top Lawyer and Super Lawyer multiple times in my career. These are awards that require nomination by my peers.
Since 2009, I’ve served on the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Fairness. This high profile, statewide committee, that I now chair, makes recommendations to judges, the Legislature, and the Governor about how the Court can be fairer to all who appear before it.
One of my career highlights was a case combining my legal background and my commitment to the Latino community. My client needed a Spanish language interpreter in court. The judge asked my client how he came to the United States and if he was here legally. I interrupted the judge, and I said, “Your Honor, I’ve been in front of you with clients who are black and clients who are white, and you never asked them if they came to the United States legally.” In that moment, I was honored that my client chose me to represent him, and that I was able to ensure he was treated fairly and with the dignity and respect he deserved.
I didn’t stop there. I brought my client’s experience to my colleagues on the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Fairness. As a committee, we wrote a letter to the PA Supreme Court recounting the experience. The PA Supreme Court agreed that the judge’s question was inappropriate. My judicial memorandum for equality in application of courtroom standards regarding immigration status became a Rule of Evidence in October of 2021, and now every judge and every lawyer must follow this rule. While it is unfortunate for anyone to experience unfairness within the justice system, I am happy I was able to bring about this necessary change. This is the perspective of fairness and equality that I will bring to the bench.
It's time that the Court of Common Pleas mirrors the makeup of our community.
In the 2020 census, twenty percent of the Chester County population identified themselves as people of color. The highest percentage of these individuals identified as members of the Hispanic or Latino community—eight percent. The Chester County Court of Common Pleas has 17 judges—14 full time judges and 3 senior judges. The last Chester County Latino Judge served in 2004. The Court needs to mirror Chester County’s population by electing qualified, diverse judges. There is great benefit to electing judges who also reflect the many faces of our community.
I’m a proud member of the Chester County Latino Community and love my ability to represent this underserved population. Both in my legal practice and as Chair of Pennsylvania Interbranch for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness, I have represented and stood up for rights and fairness for all.
I’m the founder and a host of the Chester County Latino Luncheon. This is a monthly networking group for local Latino business leaders where we provide mutual support and advocacy for each other in the community. In 2013, we began scholarship fund for students attending local universities. In 2018, we received a Commemorative Citation for Latino Luncheon Scholarship Initiative from the Chester County Commissioners.
I fight racism wherever I see it. I was proud to stand up and represent the Latino community at an Oxford Area School Board meeting to address a board member's racist commentary. All children in our community deserve welcoming educational environments in which to learn. I have been a youth mentor for students in the Career Compass program at the Garage Community and Youth Center. In 2022, I helped raise $63,000 at the Garage’s holiday event with MW El Futuro, an organization that supports and uplifts Latino culture and families.
I was a former board member, secretary and vice-president of La Comunidad Hispana and an Al Dia Community Impact Award recipient. And most of all, I cannot adequately express how gratifying it is for me to give back to my local Chester County Latino Community with my work at the LCH Legal Clinic where I represent both business owners and mushroom pickers, and treat all with dignity and respect.
My Latino community means the world to me, and it would be my honor to represent them as a Judge on the Chester County Court of Common Pleas. There is a saying, “If you can see it. You can be it.” If elected, I hope to inspire Latino youth to pursue a career in law and one day become judges.
I believe in creating a better community through action.
Every day, I work hard to deliver impactful work not only for my clients, but also for our Chester County community. I am honored to be re-appointed by the Chester County Commissioners to the Chester Water Authority Board where I have served for three terms. Chester Water Authority is an award-winning, municipal water authority that provides quality drinking water to 200,000 residents and businesses in Chester County, Delaware County, and the City of Chester. Along with my fellow board members, we continue to fight against Big Water profiteers, Aqua, who attempted a hostile takeover in 2017. Since the takeover attempt, we, as a board, have saved the ratepayers $276,337,608 over what they would have paid if they were Aqua customers.
I am a member of the Longwood Rotary and a past president. When I was president, we raised $74,000 in one night to donate to community causes. Rotary provides service to others, promotes integrity, and advances world understanding, goodwill, and peace through fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.
For ten years, I coached the Kennett High School Mock Trial Team. It was a great honor when my former student asked me to sign his license to practice after he passed the Bar. This was a huge compliment as it’s mostly a privilege given to high-ranking individuals in the legal community, such as judges. In 2018, I received the Mock Trial Coach Award in recognition of years of service as team coach.
I have coached for local recreational sports for area youth. I am a strong advocate for our Chester County Community.