Judge Judith Ference Olson was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She graduated magna cum laude from Saint Francis University in 1979 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Theatre Arts. She attended the Duquesne University School of Law where she served on the Duquesne Law Review and, in 1982, she graduated second in her class. Following graduation, Judge Olson clerked for the Honorable Maurice B. Cohill, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
In 1984, Judge Olson joined the law firm of Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C. where she practiced in the area of complex commercial litigation. In 2000, Judge Olson joined the firm of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP where she served as Chairperson of the firm’s Antitrust and Trade Regulation Practice Group and Partner-in-Charge of Litigation for the firm’s Pittsburgh office. While in private practice, Judge Olson served as a private mediator and arbitrator for the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. She was inducted as a fellow of the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County where she served as Chairperson of the Academy’s Federal Court Committee and as a member of the Board of Governors. She was also named as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer® and one of Pennsylvania’s top 50 women lawyers.
In 2008, Judge Olson was nominated by Governor Edward G. Rendell for a position on the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. She was unanimously confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate. On November 10, 2008, she took the oath of office and was assigned to the Civil Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.
On November 3, 2009, Judge Olson was elected to a ten-year term on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. She was retained for another ten-year term in 2019. Her chambers are in Pittsburgh.
Judge Olson is a member of the Pennsylvania and Allegheny County Bar Associations, the Federal Bar Association, and the American Inns of Court (Pittsburgh Chapter), and she is a fellow of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation.
Judge Olson dedicates much time to charitable organizations. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Saint Francis University, where she serves as the chairperson of the student affairs committee and the trustees evaluation and nomination committee, and as a member of the executive committee. She is actively involved with the American Heart Association where she has served in various capacities, including as a member of the National Board of Directors and as President of the Allegheny Division. She also donated significant time to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh where she served on the Hospital’s Family Forum and as Chairperson of the Children’s Challenge. Judge Olson also served on the Bishop’s Pastoral Council for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. As a result of her volunteer services, Judge Olson has received numerous awards including the American Heart Association Allegheny Division Volunteer of the Year Award, Community Champion Award, and the Earl G. Harrison Community Service Award.