Elections are underway, the FL Bar President addresses gender bias, recap of the Professionalism Roundtable,
and check out photos from Women Making History!
MIAMI-DADE FAWL'S MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
MARCH/APRIL 2016, Vol. XLIII, Issue 9
DID YOU CAST A BALLOT?
vote
MIAMI-DADE FAWL ELECTIONS:  WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

This year there is a contested election for the Board of Directors of Miami-Dade FAWL.  The candidates are:

Lauren G. Brunswick
Stephanie A. Casey
Freddi Mack
Diana Mendez
Stephanie Moot
Kristin Drecktrah Paz
Kelly M. Peña
Jennifer Ruiz
Jody Shulman
Evelyn Suero
Alicia Welch
Talia Zucker

T o be eligible to vote in the upcoming election, you must have been a member in good standing as of  April 2, 2016 . If so, you should have received a ballot on  April 8, 2016 .

If you did not receive a ballot on that date or if you have any other questions about casting your ballot, please contact the Miami-Dade FAWL Elections Committee at  elections@mdfawl.org for further instructions.

Votes will be counted electronically. The candidates receiving the highest number of votes shall be elected to the Miami-Dade FAWL board of directors. The election results will be announced on April 18, 2016.

You can read more about each of the candidates here . Good luck to all of the candidates and please, we encourage you to vote and be a part of this process.
THE QUEST FOR GENDER PARITY IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION: A PRESENTATION BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE FLORIDA BAR, RAMÓN A. ABADIN

By: Lauren Brunswick, Stephanie Moot, and Kelly Peña

"THE FIRST STEP IS RECOGNITION AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT GENDER BIAS CONTINUES TO INFECT OUR WORKPLACE. BUT THE TRUE IMPACT WILL COME ONCE WE CAN INFLUENCE AND RESHAPE OUR BUSINESS CULTURE TO ENSURE NO ONE, FEMALE OR MALE, EVER FEELS LESS THAN EQUAL."

"IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR ANY LAWYER, REGARDLESS OF GENDER, TO BE MADE TO FEEL DIMINISHED OR DISRESPECTED BY A COLLEAGUE, A CLIENT OR A MEMBER OF THE COURT. NO LAWYER, MALE OR FEMALE, SHOULD FEEL FORCED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN FAMILY AND CAREER, OR BE PENALIZED FOR TRYING TO BALANCE WORK AND HOME..."
 

On February 26, 2016, The Florida Bar released its findings from a survey conducted by its Young Lawyers Division (YLD). The 2015 YLD Survey on Women in the Legal Profession  emailed a survey link to a random sample of 3,000+ young female members of The Florida Bar. The survey revealed, among other things, that 43 percent of respondents reported experiencing gender bias at some point during their legal career, and that young female attorneys continue to feel held back by gender stereotypes.

The Florida Bar President speaks at Miami-Dade FAWL luncheon on April 6th at Epic Hotel

At the luncheon, President Abadin explained that this survey presented The Florida Bar and all lawyers practicing here with an opportunity to begin to make a change. He explained that while he did not have a particular solution to gender bias in the legal profession, he was committed to focusing on the issue and to encouraging a very open and honest dialogue about it.

According to President Abadin, the survey " presents a very sobering picture for our profession" from which we should all see the "true takeaway," which are the survey's comments: "90 pages of eloquent, often troubling, personal accounts and opinions - that make clear this is not an issue to be ignored." (President Abadin made these particular comments in The Florida Bar Press Release releasing the survey results, available here).

As he stood before a packed banquet hall, President  Abadin humbly admitted what anyone who read the survey results knew: gender bias is very much alive in Florida and in the legal profession. For example, only 18 percent of equity partners are women.  But,  President Abadin also pointed out the great strides we -- as a legal community -- have made in recent years; for example, females now serve in more committee positions for The Florida Bar than at any point in the organization's history. And he emphasized that The Florida Bar is and will continue to expand efforts at raising awareness and making change in order "to truly make a difference."

While President Abadin's presentation was not meant to suggest that he had any permanent solution to end gender bias, he did explain that as a husband, father, lawyer, and the leader of The Florida Bar, it is his true desire for every member of The Florida Bar to feel respected. He has explained: " It is our hope that by hanging a lantern on this issue, we can work together to ensure that all members feel respected and that hard work will yield equal opportunity ... Every attorney should know, regardless of gender, that there is room at the top for them."

As an organization whose mission is to promote the advancement of women in the legal profession, Miami-Dade FAWL is grateful that President Abadin, The Florida Bar, its YLD, and myriad chapters of FAWL have recognized that there is much work still to be done to move past gender bias and to achieve gender parity.

President Abadin entertained questions from the audience at the luncheon, and was even willing to entertain questions from the Twitterverse.
We met up with President Abadin after the luncheon, and he emphasized that he "absolutely remains available for the remainder of [his] term" to answer any of our questions or to engage in any discussions with our members about gender bi as or any relevant topic.  If you would like to send a question to The Florida Bar President, connect with him on Twitter at @FLBarPresident  or send your question to newsletter@mdfawl.org and we'll be sure to get it to President Abadin and to get you an answer.

Miami-Dade FAWL's luncheon was not the first of its kind, and it was not the last. In fact, President Abadin scheduled this luncheon in between numerous other speaking engagements that he has booked throughout the state, many of them with various chapters of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL) across the state.

Following the release of the survey results, The Florida Bar, its YLD, and various FAWL chapters continue to work together to increase the dialogue on the issue of gender bias. President Abadin is encouraging members of The Florida Bar to collaborate on ideas to work toward a solution, which will not come overnight.  One recent collaboration between The Florida Bar's YLD and various practicing female lawyers, including a number of Miami-Dade FAWL members, is The YLD's  Commission on Women . The Commission's mission is "to assess the current status of women in the legal profession, to identify quality of life issues that impact women, and to break down barriers faced by women in their legal careers." And one of the first programs it launched is an interview series, entitled " Balancing in Heels: Self, Family, and the Practice of Law ." This interview series presents the insight and advice of a number of women lawyers in Florida about "having it all," finding balance between one's personal and professional lives, and the importance of civic and professional involvement.   In April, the YLD will host a series of events through its "Women in Law" initiative and, in partnership with local FAWL chapters, President Abadin will continue to speak about gender bias and gender diversity.

(From left to right) Miami-Dade FAWL Directors Stephanie Moot, Kelly Pena, and Lauren Brunswick present plaque to President Abadin following his presentation
Working toward gender parity is not a women's issue but rather an issue affecting our legal profession as a whole. We agree completely with President Abadin that reaching this lofty goal will require collaboration, reciprocation, elevation, and perseverance. Miami-Dade FAWL commends The Florida Bar President for taking such a public stance against gender bias. This luncheon was just one stop on a public awareness campaign to stomp out gender diversity, but we are truly grateful that President Abadin took the time to get off the train here in Miami to speak about recognizing gender bias and soliciting information from male and female attorneys about a problem that will not, as President Abadin explains, be solved "just through rhetoric but by making systematic changes to the way we work and the culture we create."

Miami-Dade FAWL is proud of its programming generally, but is particularly humbled and honored that President Abadin collaborated to bring such a wonderful presentation to Miami-Dade FAWL members, friends, and colleagues. We also are very grateful for the event's sponsors and supporters, who made such a wonderful program possible:

Asian Pacific American Bar Association of South Florida

Cuban American Bar Association

EPIC Hotel

FIU Law

Greenberg Traurig, P.A.

Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association

Haitian Lawyers Association

K&L Gates LLP

ra-haus fotografie

Schwartz Media Strategies

Shook Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.

ShubinBass, P.A.

Staging Studios by Rene

U.S. Legal Support


 

We hope to see you at another Miami-Dade FAWL event soon!
#MDFAWL #IAMMDFAWL

Ileana Cruz, President

Rebecca Ocariz, President-Elect

Katie S. Phang, Secretary

Lara Bueso Bach, Treasurer

Elisa D'Amico, Newsletter Editor

Deborah Baker-Egozi,  Immediate-Past President

 
Ardith Bronson
 
Stephanie Moot
Lauren Brunswick

Kelly Peña

Stephanie Casey
Jody Shulman
Courtney Engelke
Alicia Welch
Mallory Gold
Talia Zucker
Diana Mendez
 
MEMBERSHIP SPOTLIGHT
Lauren Brunswick
Elisa D'Amico
Kelly Pe ña
Erica Rutner
Erica Rutner

Alicia Welch


Lauren Brunswick, Kelly Peña, and Alicia Welch, Miami-Dade FAWL Directors, have been recognized by the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL) with the "Leaders in the Law" Award for their continuing commitment to their profession, their communities, their peers, and to FAWL. Lauren is a commercial, real estate, land use, and securities litigator with ShubinBass, P.A. Kelly is an employment attorney with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Steward, P.C. And Alicia is an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the United States Attorney's Office.  These admirable women and leaders will be presented with their awards at FAWL's annual awards gala and installation on June 16, 2016 in Orlando.

Elisa D'Amico , Miami-Dade FAWL Newsletter Editor, was featured in the Miami Herald for her work representing a victim of sexual cyberharassment. The defendant was criminally prosecuted by Thomas Haggerty, Chief of the Cyber Crimes Division of the Office of the Miami-Dade State Attorney. A settlement was reached wherein the defendant plead guilty and agreed to a short jail sentence, among other things. Elisa called the victim out as being extremely "selfless and incredibly strong."

Erica Rutner, litigation associate with Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, co-authored an article published in March 2016 in Bloomberg BNA's Class Action Litigation Report entitled "Circuit Split on Ascertainability Leads to Inconsistency and Uncertainty in the Certification of Class Actions." A copy of the article is available here.

Young Lawyers Committee  Professionalism Roundtable:
Presented by  Hon. Beatrice Butchko and Hon. Lisa Walsh
by: Amanda Fernandez

Professionalism Roundtable
Professionalism Roundtable Presenters Judge Butchko and Judge Walsh (both seated) with attendees
On March 18, 2016, the Miami-Dade FAWL Young Lawyers Committee presented a Roundtable Discussion on Professionalism at Fowler White Burnett. The event speakers were longtime Miami-Dade FAWL supporters and members Judge Beatrice Butchko and Judge Lisa Walsh.

Attendees were lucky to hear the insights and wisdom of the judicial speakers as they spoke not only about appropriate behavior and attitude in terms of being compliant with the applicable rules and regulations, but also about what they believe makes an attorney a more effective advocate.

Judge Butchko and Judge Walsh each presented thoughts about what makes lawyers succeed and fail in the courtroom.  For example, Judge Butchko discussed how important it is for attorneys to be respectful of the jurors, as the attorney may pay the price with the verdict.  Judge Butchko also reminded the attendants how important the attorneys' courtroom demeanor is at all times, as the jurors are very observant of the attorneys' actions. In addition, Judge Walsh emphasized the duty that judges have to ensure that poor, inappropriate behavior (like gender or racial bias) does not find its way into the courtroom.  Both judges expressed a desire to see more women lawyers as lead counsel instead of serving as second or third chair.

During the lunch, the speakers fielded a number of questions from the group -- some more sensitive than others. The group discussed everything from building up a solid reputation in the community and in the courtroom, to resisting the urge to push forward on what you know is a losing legal argument, to thoughts on pantyhose and courtroom attire. 

Attendees were gracious and attentive that the speakers took time out of their busy schedules to conduct an intimate discussion that touched on practicing with professionalism. Some took copious notes, not wanting to miss one word; others engaged in discussions with the speakers, making the roundtable a lively and wonderful program. Everyone walked away with a handout entitled "Ten Courtroom Dos and Don'ts: A Laywer's Guide to Professionalism in the Courtroom," provided by Damian & Valori LLP.

The Young Lawyers Committee looks forward to seeing you at future events - keep your eyes peeled for Miami-Dade FAWL emails announcing more programming.
PHOTO GALLERY:
Miami-Dade FAWL Honors and Celebrates
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle
with the 2016 Women Making History Award

On Thursday, March 31, 2016, Miami-Dade FAWL honored Miami-Dade State Attorney with the 2016 Women Making History Award. Miami-Dade FAWL annually presents this award to one outstanding woman to recognize her trailblazing work and leadership throughout the community. Ms. Fernandez Rundle's work and dedication exemplifies empowerment, perseverance, and passion to promoting women's issues and well-being.

The sold-out event was held at LILT Lounge at the EPIC Hotel, where guests enjoyed live music, libations, small bites, and a short ceremony to present the award to the guest of honor. Guests showed off their support for Miami-Dade FAWL, for the promotion of women leadership in the law, and for women making history each and every day, as everyone -- young, very young, female, and male, posed for the photo booth.

Miami-Dade FAWL is incredibly grateful for the support of all of its members, and especially to the sponsors who made this event not only possible, but exquisite:

ADVOCATE SPONSORS:
Conrad & Scherer LLP
Hickey Law Firm, P.A.
Greenberg Traurig, P.A.
Legal Edge Services
Office Edge
Robbins-Udel Images

SUPPORTER SPONSORS:
Boardroom Communications
Diaz Briscoe Medina
K&L Gates LLP

Miami-Dade FAWL thanks the members of the Women Making History Event Committee -- Elisa D'Amico (Chair), Alexis Calleja, Vivian Fazio, Freddi Mack, Carter Meader, and Schuyler Smith -- for putting together a truly exquisite event.

Thanks also to LILT Lounge for helping organize this event as part of its " Party for a Cause " program. Miami-Dade FAWL is proud to announce that following this event, it will make a $500.00 donation to Women of Tomorrow in honor of Ms. Fernandez Rundle.

Below are some photos photographer Tony Firpi of  Devious Elements Photography, with more available in an online gallery thanks to the Daily Business Review:





Congrats again to our honoree and thanks to our sponsors!
Miami-Dade FAWL's Fourth Annual Membership Picnic:
Networking and Celebrating with Some Fun in the Sun!
By: Kristin Drecktrah Paz

Miami-Dade FAWL leaders: Freddi Mack, Liana Matthews,
and Julie Rodriguez
On Saturday, April 2, 2016, Miami-Dade FAWL hosted its Fourth Annual Membership Picnic at Tropical Park.

Members, along with their friends and family came together for an afternoon of networking and fun in the sun. Judges, attorneys, and law students were seen sipping on sodas as children happily bounced up and down, giving their parents just enough time to grab some  grilled delights served by Tropical Palate Catering.

Thanks to all those who helped to organize the event, and to all Miami-Dade FAWL members and supporters who came out to celebrate with the organization. And a special thanks to the new Miami-Dade FAWL members who recently joined!

If you recently joined Miami-Dade FAWL and are looking to get more involved, please reach out to us! You can contact the Membership Committee at membership@mdfawl.org or send an email to the President (president@mdfawl.org) to find out how to get more involved and meet more of our amazing members.

Miami-Dade FAWL is a volunteer bar association dedicated to actively promoting the advancement of women in the legal profession, expanding the leadership role of its members in the community at large, and promoting women's rights.
Elisa D'Amico, Newsletter Editor | Miami-Dade FAWL
FOLLOW US ON TWITTER  @MDFAWL
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