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Tallahassee, Fla. (July 25, 2017) – The Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL) is thankful for The Florida Bar’s recent initiatives to combat and eradicate gender bias in the legal profession in Florida. In 2015, The Florida Bar’s Young Lawyers Division (YLD) published the results of its 2015 YLD Survey on Women in the Legal Profession, in which female attorneys reported experiencing gender bias in the legal profession—43% of respondents experienced gender bias during their legal career.  

In response to the YLD survey, The Florida Bar appointed a Special Committee on Gender Bias to study gender and diversity issues in order to make concrete recommendations.  The Special Committee sent out a broader survey on Gender Equality in the Legal Profession.  One out of every seven female respondents indicated experiencing harassment or bullying within the last three years due to gender.  In May 2017, the Special Committee published its report and recommendations including a 12-point plan to be implemented by The Florida Bar in addressing gender bias, including the creation of a Subcommittee on Women in the Profession that will be responsible for overseeing implementation efforts of the Special Committee’s preliminary recommendations.  The Special Committee’s work is just one recent example of steps The Florida Bar is taking to improve the legal profession.  

The Florida Bar has also taken the lead in recognizing parental leave as a valid reason for a continuance of trials and significant court activity for lead attorneys—both women and men—in their cases.  The Florida Bar Board of Governors, made up of representatives of every judicial circuit in the state of Florida, voted unanimously to recommend a new Rule of Judicial Procedure (Rule 2.570) that, if approved by the Florida Supreme Court, would allow lead attorneys to obtain a three-month continuance for parental leave, provided that the client agrees and there would be no substantial prejudice to the opposing party.     

    The Florida Bar is not the only pace setter.  Florida state and federal courts are establishing lactation rooms in courthouses across the state, which provide a clean, private room for litigants, jurors, courthouse staff, lawyers, and judges to use so that they do not have to pump in public.

FAWL is incredibly grateful for The Florida Bar’s attention and action on gender bias and a special thank you to our courthouse partners and to the YLD for being the change agent.

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FAWL is a voluntary bar organization whose mission is to promote gender equality and the leadership roles of FAWL’s members in the legal profession, judiciary, and community at large.  FAWL is made up of over 30 chapters of lawyers from around the state of Florida.

Posted 27 July 2017
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