Bucks County Solicitor Joseph Khan last week was presented the 2021 Outstanding Solicitor Award by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP).
Khan was selected for helping Bucks County’s government “realize its vision for transparency, ethics and excellence,” his legal leadership and work on recent election issues, and for “redefining the role of county solicitor in important and transformative ways,” CCAP announced in a news release.
Khan accepted the award Aug. 3 during CCAP’s Annual Conference and Trade Show in Hershey.
“The award has one person’s name on it, but it very much is a recognition of all the incredible work that has been done by the team, starting with our Law Department that we’ve been able to create…,” Khan told the Bucks County Commissioners at their Aug. 4 meeting in Doylestown.
Khan has served as county solicitor since January 2020. He previously worked as a public interest attorney representing municipal, county and state governments, and before that was a longtime federal prosecutor and assistant district attorney in Philadelphia.
In a nominating letter for the CCAP award, Commissioner Bob Harvie described Khan as a trusted advisor whose record as solicitor “is that of a passionate advocate, strategic thinker and transformational leader.”
Specifically, Harvie credited Khan with accomplishments including:
- Negotiating a settlement in the longstanding Taha v. County of Bucks federal class-action lawsuit over criminal history information, reducing a potential nine-figure county payout by 85 percent, funding the creation of the county’s first Pardons & Expungement Unit in the Public Defender’s Office, and negating a possible legal precedent that could have affected other counties;
- Expanding and reorganizing the county’s Law Department to handle more of the Bucks County’s legal work in-house, reducing the need for costlier outside counsel, and saving the county about $400,000 in legal fees last year alone; all while expanding the gender, racial and ethnic diversity of the legal staff;
- Introducing policies and ordinances to help improve the county’s ethical standards and further protect employees against harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace; and
- Expanding the Legal Services Division to include not only the Law Department, but also the Offices of Public Defender, Guardian Ad Litem, Open Records, and Consumer Protection.
Harvie also praised Khan for providing expert advice and legal assistance during a number of crises ranging from COVID-19 to the challenges of election reform and the contentious 2020 presidential campaign.
“With vision and creativity, Mr. Khan has leveraged his relationships and litigation skills to give the County a leading voice on a wide range of legal issues, including environmental protection, voter rights, corporate misconduct and the U.S. Census…,” Harvie wrote. “Without fail, we relied on his dedication and expertise last year as we confronted the unprecedented and intersecting challenges of a global pandemic, historic elections, and the transition to a new administration.”