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PROFESSIONS : County Bar Surveying Legal Community to Gauge Gender Bias

July 29, 1993|Anne Michaud / Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Bar Assn. is surveying lawyers, judges and others in the legal community about gender bias.

The questionnaires, which went out this month, ask recipients whether they have ever witnessed or experienced bias, said Marjorie Fuller, a Fullerton attorney and co-chair of the Bar's new gender equity committee.

"Even though at first glance you would not think there are gender inequity problems, there really are," Fuller said.

She said women lawyers experience bias if a judge takes a male lawyer's statements more seriously. And a judge may be biased against men, Fuller said, when awarding custody of young children.

"We're just trying to get to where women and men treat each other equally," Fuller said. "I know that's not going to happen in the next five minutes. But everything starts with one step."

The committee was formed in January when Michelle A. Reinglass took over as president of the local Bar. She is the Bar's second female president.

The gender equity committee is so popular, Reinglass said, that there is a waiting list to succeed any of its 25 members. Interest in serving on the committee, she said, is pretty evenly divided between men and women, and between lawyers and judges.

So far, the committee has met with the managing partners of major Orange County law firms. And it is planning an educational seminar for September.

"We're not trying to target people, to point them out, to chastise them," said Reinglass, whose practice is in Laguna Hills. "We're trying to inform and sensitize."

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