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New Center for Professionalism podcast focuses on the journey of women who become judges

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Never Contemplated Podcast by The Florida Bar Center for ProfessionalismA new podcast focusing on journeys of women lawyers in becoming judges is being offered by The Florida Bar’s Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism.

The first issue of “Never Contemplated” went online on September 16 and featured host Administrative Law Judge Hetal Desai interviewing First District Court of Appeal Judge Rachel Nordby about her experiences and observations.

The idea germinated from a casual discussion among members, including several judges, of the Bar’s Standing Committee on Professionalism, according to Professionalism Center Assistant Director Katie Young. Influencing the discussion were the committee’s Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee as well as a recent study that showed female justices on the U.S. Supreme Court were interrupted three times more often than their male colleagues.

“I would say our main overall goal of the podcast is to promote gender equality in the judiciary,” Young said. “Our goal is to try to produce one a month and we want to do around five episodes now.”

“We thought it would be interesting to talk to members of the judiciary about their journeys to becoming judges and their challenges on the bench, and sometimes off the bench, and maybe we could get some practical professionalism advice as a bonus,” Judge Desai explained on the first podcast.

Judge Nordby was chosen as the first guest, Young said, because Judge Desai had attended her formal investiture (Nordby was appointed to the First DCA late last year) earlier this year and was impressed with her background, which included working in the Solicitor General’s Office and pausing her practice to spend time with her children.

The conversation ranged from Judge Nordby’s experience, her tips for appellate lawyers, how she handles her work/life balance, how she prepared for questions about her decision to take two years off, and the value of going through the judicial nominating commission process.

Norby said she was concerned about questions about her career break but she followed advice from a Washington, D.C., attorney and friend who had also paused her career to not “dwell or be defensive about it. It’s what happened.

“It helped me acknowledge that I didn’t have to apologize for the very personal decision I had made to take time away from work,” she said. “It really helped me going into the JNC interview. It ended up not being an issue.”

She called the JNC process invaluable, even for those who are not nominated or selected.

“If you have any inkling that you may at some point want to apply to be a judge…go today and download the [JNC] application,” Nordby said. “Look at what kinds of questions it asks and that can walk you through what the JNC and…the Governor’s Office are looking for. Look at your own resume and how that would look and what gaps might need to be filled….

“Having put yourself out there and applied and gone through the process, it’s such a valuable experience. You learn so much about yourself and it’s worth it.”

Young said future planned guests on the podcast include 11th Circuit Judge Andrea Wolfson and U.S. Middle District Court Judge Marcia Howard, respectively the 2019 and 2020 winners of the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Professionalism Award.

The podcast carries one hour of CLE credit, with half a credit counting toward bias elimination and the other half towards professionalism.

The “Never Contemplated” podcast is available on most platforms, including Apple, Spotify, Buzz Sprout, and Stitcher, as well as on the center’s resources page.

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