Vol. 43, No. 1

New bar association toolkits help legal profession confront harassment, gender bias

by Robert J. Derocher

Resources are key in the research, discussions and learning opportunities surrounding sexual harassment, sexual assault and gender bias issues that confront the legal profession.

On the national level, the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession has developed the Zero Tolerance Toolkit, featuring resources that include slides, written material, potential scenarios and information on speakers and panelists designed to further discussion.

The centerpiece is a new manual, Zero Tolerance: Best Practices for Combating Sex-Based Harassment in the Legal Profession, published this year as a comprehensive update to previous information provided by the commission.

“It’s a real resource for any group,” says Pamela Roberts, a past commission chair who assisted with the update. “It can be used by committees, for programming at annual conference, and as training by law firms.”

The Florida Bar expects a similar toolkit to be available to its members later this year, with plans to have it available on the bar’s website so it can be easily accessed, according to bar President Michelle Suskauer.

“This is not something that we just slapped together. Bars need to make this a priority,” Suskauer says. “The hope is that law firms and organizations must have this. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”