For more than 18 years, Judge Lisa Rau served on the highest state trial court in Philadelphia County, the Court of Common Pleas. At the end of her judicial career, she was assigned exclusively to resolve high value and high priority civil matters due to her expertise. Judge Rau was selected to serve as Team Leader, where for 5 years she managed every major civil case filed in Philadelphia County during a calendar year, over 6,000 cases initially. As Team Leader, she resolved hundreds of major civil cases, presided over all discovery matters, handled pre-trial conferences, decided motions, and assigned cases for trial to a team of judges she supervised. Judge Rau engaged in daily settlement conferences that honed her mediation skills and allowed her to develop creative techniques for resolving cases. Throughout her judicial career, she presided over hundreds of trials, mostly civil jury trials. Judge Rau gained insight into case value and trial risks from jury verdicts and settlements. In 2019, the Philadelphia Bar Association's Civil Litigation Section awarded Judge Rau the Bar Star for her contributions to their work.
Prior to the bench, Judge Rau was a civil litigator who specialized in the litigation and trial of complex employment and class action cases in federal court.
Judge Rau grew up in a military family and was educated in public schools in the United States and overseas. After serving in the Peace Corps in Thailand, she received her J.D. from Stanford Law School where she was an associate editor of the Stanford Law Review. She received her B.A., magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with high honors in psychology from Colgate University.
After her appointment to the bench and election with bipartisan support in 2001, Judge Rau continued her education in mediation and trial skills while serving as a judge. Judge Rau completed her master's degree in judicial studies in 2019 from the University of Nevada’s Judicial College with her thesis focused on how Philadelphia overcame its backlog and transformed its court through intensive civil case management.
Judge Rau is a fellow of the International Academy of Mediators. She serves on ADR Panels for AAA, CPR, and NADN. Judge Rau has taken over 200 hours in mediation training including 3 courses that qualify her to be certified as a mediator. The National Judicial College awarded Judge Rau with a Certificate in Dispute Resolution Trial Skills and a Certificate in Judicial Development and General Jurisdiction Trial Skills.
Judge Rau is also an active educator. Judge Rau served on the faculty of the National Judicial College from 2007-2019 teaching advanced evidence to judges from across the country. She regularly teaches lawyers and judges in continuing education. She has taught courses at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple, and Villanova’s law schools. Judge Rau teaches civics to high school students in Philadelphia public schools.
Having been a judicial Team Leader and a trial judge for over 18 years, Judge Rau has experience with just about every type of litigated civil case including personal injury, construction, professional liability, defamation, products liability, insurance, aviation, civil rights, employment, commercial, dram shop, motor vehicle, contract, sexual assault, premises liability, mass torts, class actions, and appeals.