Tuesday, September 9, 2003
Woman to Woman: Female Law Firm
They are among South Florida's most powerful women. And in tonight's Woman To Woman report, Beatriz Canals takes us inside a successful female law firm that's showing the men what they're made of.
(WSVN) -- Reese Witherspoon and Calista Flockhart may play them on screen.
But when it comes to tough female attorneys, the women of Allison Gilman and Associates in Fort Lauderdale prove they can really fight against the big boys.
Attorney Allison Gilman says, "You see women state attorneys, but you don't see women on the defense side. We definitely come in and it's something different and sometimes the men don't know how to deal with us."
Allison's used to it though -- after graduating high school at 15, college at 18 and law school at 21.
Allison says, "My father was a big believer in education and that a woman needs to get an education at a young age and be able to support herself, so he pushed me all the time to go to school, school, and more school."
Allison spent years working in courtrooms like this one while working for the public defender's office going up against mostly male lawyers...
Then in '96, she opened up her own practice officially breaking out of the boys club.
Allison says, "We've had to show them what we can do, winning hundreds and hundreds of trials being strong, being aggressive."
In fact, almost all of the attorneys at this criminal, personal injury and family law firm are female... And everyone behind the scenes is too.
And while that may be impressive, when it comes to the law in Florida, women are still underrepresented.
Only 27 percent of Florida Bar members are female.
Even less are managing partners in a law firm.
Studies show bias, plus balancing career and family are to blame for that.
But these ladies are proving you can still be feminine and a fighter.
AttorneyRamona Tolley says, "When we get into that courtroom, you've either got to take control of that courtroom or you're not, and if you're not going to, you're going to be pushed around."
Kim says, "I do think that you do have to prove yourself to men in this area to get some recognition."
Allison adds, "For a woman, it's that much harder to prove yourself, but once you prove yourself, I think you stay there."
No objection to that.
Now Allison says its not a matter of bias at her firm-- she just recently hired a male attorney and has hired them in the past.
But she says it just happens more women have applied in the past.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
GILMAN & ASSOCIATES, P.A.
400 SE 9th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316