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FAWL summit focuses on women in the law

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Women Lawyers Summit

LASHAWNDA K. JACKSON, president, Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter National Bar Association; Joni Poitier of Jacksonville, Melba Pearson, president of the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association; and Janeé Prince of Tampa at the FAWL Women Lawyers Summit.

FAWL summit focuses on women in the law

The Florida Association for Women Lawyers recently hosted its annual Women Lawyers Summit in Atlantic Beach to address business development for women, parental leave, confidence, and intersectionality.

Programming on business development recognized that “women are not equitably represented in partnership within firms and that clients with a dedication to gender equality can change that by intentionally sending business to women lawyers.”

Panelists discussing parental leave shared their experiences in preparing for leave, seeking continuances, and returning from leave, acknowledging that poor parental leave support is a likely factor in the failure to retain women attorneys.

Melanie Griffin, founder of Spread Your Sunshine, spoke about letting go of perfectionism and lifting other women up through mentoring.

The featured luncheon on intersectionality involved a candid discussion of the experience of women of color in the legal profession and the challenges they face. Panelists recommended steps to increase recognition of implicit biases related to the intersection of gender and race. The first step is to listen and learn, they said.

The summit culminated in a dinner celebrating and drawing attention to women on the Supreme Court. In the court’s 170-plus-year history, only three women have ever served — Justices Rosemary Barkett, Barbara J. Pariente, and Peggy A. Quince. In the past 20 years, seven justices have been appointed — all of them men. As the only women on the court are required to retire in January, FAWL has set a goal of maintaining or increasing the number of women on the court.

Justices Pariente and Quince left attendees with their top 10 pieces of advice for women lawyers, including “not only be the best lawyer or judge you can be, but devote time to causes you are passionate about.”

FAWL President Jenny Shoaf Richardson concluded by saying, “our battle is not one that can be won overnight, or even this year, and we simply must remain vigilant.”

With more than 3,500 members in 35 chapters, the Florida Association for Women
Lawyers is one of the largest voluntary bar organizations in Florida. Founded in 1951, FAWL continues its legacy of actively promoting gender equality and leadership roles of its members in the legal profession, the judiciary, and the community at-large.

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