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Bar News - February 15, 2017

Gender Equality in the Law: Why We Continue to Do This


Joe Keefe

The NH Bar Association Midyear Meeting Gender Equality Breakfast is just a few weeks away. The Gender Equality Committee is excited about this year’s speaker, Joe Keefe of Pax World Management. Keefe is a leading advocate for investing in women and raising awareness of the critical role that gender diversity plays in business success. His local, national, and international honors evidence the universal recognition that gender-based inequality still exists. It also shows that a single voice can draw the spotlight to this issue.

Gender equality is not just a women’s issue. Years back, the NH Bar Association conducted a survey on perceptions of the Gender Equality Committee. A question arose: did the Bar need this committee? The suggestion back then was that gender equality should be the work of the NH Women’s Bar Association. That misses the point. Gender equality is not just a women’s issue. It affects men, women, and people who affiliate with either or both genders. If we allow one gender to not have the same economic opportunities as another gender, it acts as a drag on our prosperity. It is this lost economic opportunity on which Keefe has shone a spotlight. That is why the Gender Equality Committee chose him as the recipient of this year’s Judge Philip S. Hollman Equality Award.

Just as gender diversity on corporate boards is important to the success of a company, gender diversity in our Bar, judicial system, government, and private practice is important to the success of legal services in New Hampshire. A few years ago, the Gender Equality Committee held a Gender Equality Training Series. From that series, the committee has continued to conduct negotiation training sessions. These training sessions educate law students and young lawyers on how to recognize and respond to interview questions or employment offers that disadvantage a person based on gender-bias. The goal is to raise awareness that gender bias is still present and combat its adverse effects on our economic prosperity.

Our attention on gender equality and efforts to eliminate gender bias in our society continually evolve and refocus. With each milestone achieved, the spotlight moves on. As Keefe’s work illustrates, the need continues, and we respond. The Gender Equality Committee appreciates the continued support Bar members show for the work of the committee, and we encourage you to come celebrate Keefe’s achievements with us. See you at the breakfast.

Marcia Brown

Marcia Brown practices environmental and utility law in Concord and is chair of the NHBA Gender Equality Committee.

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