Latest New York State Bar Association News
Aug 5, 2021
To embed, copy and paste the code into your website or blog: <iframe frameborder="1" height="620" scrolling="auto" src="//www.jdsupra.com/post/contentViewerEmbed.aspx?fid=df38df88-eed9-4a55-b316-64eb920a9a0f" style="border: 2px solid #ccc; overflow-x:hidden !important; overflow:hidden;" width="100%"></iframe> Commercial Division justices have been trailblazers in the bench’s efforts to improve the diversity and inclusiveness of the attorneys appearing before them. For example, many Commercial Division justices include in their individual rules provisions specifying that oral argument is more likely to be granted in cases where women or attorneys from historically underrepresented groups have a speaking role. Justice Jamieson of the Westchester Commercial Division recently emphasized to members of the New York State Bar Association at the Association’s Spring Meeting that she often insists on hearing from the women or diverse attorneys present, posing questions directly to them—sometimes to the chagrin of the “lead “ attorneys—during conferences and arguments. These and other efforts of the Commercial Division justices have greatly contributed to the substantial improvement of the courts and the legal profession in its inclusion of women and attorneys from historically underrepresented backgrounds. A recent survey published by the New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts, however, found that “there still remains a significant strain of bias against female lawyers, litigants, and witnesses that adversely impacts the fairness of their treatment in the judicial process which must be vigorously addressed.” The Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts based that conclusion on disappointing answers to specific questions posed to female attorneys that participated in the survey. For instance: To the question whether female attorneys were being addressed by first names or terms of endearment by other attorneys, while male attorneys were addressed by surname or title, almost one third (32%) of female attorneys reported it occurring very often and another 37% answered that it did occur sometimes. These data demonstrate the untoward frequency of such inappropriate behavior raising justifiable concerns. Among other corrective actions, the Committee encouraged that “[w]hen instances of improper conduct arise, including gender bias, the judge shall appropriately intervene.” On this score, Manhattan Commercial Division Justice Masley (pictured above) is a leading example. Not only do her Part Rules strongly encourage active in-court participation by women, but she recently issued a stern instruction to members of the bar to use gender neutral language wherever possible.