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International Women’s Day 2021

Gabriel E. Bedoya

Litigation Attorney, Honigman LLP, Detroit

    Gabriel E. Bedoya

Choose to Challenge: Time for a ‘recalibration’ of expectation in the legal sector

Gabriel E. Bedoya, litigation attorney at Honigman LLP, Interlaw’s partner firm in Detroit, talks about learnings from the last 12 months, the firm’s commitment to gender equality, and what he believes the legal sector needs to do to encourage greater gender parity.

As we know, the past 12 months have caused significant disruption and, like many firms, the team at Honigman had to completely change how they worked.  In-person meetings and coffee runs were swapped for Zoom calls, emails, or a daily check in over Jabber.  

However, as Gabriel outlines, while the firm has maintained an unwavering commitment to gender equality during this time, he recognizes that women have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. He believes this should be an opportunity for the legal sector to ‘recalibrate’ its approach to flexible working:

“As assistant recruiting partner for associates and summer associates, I know that my firm works tirelessly to ensure gender equality in its hiring efforts. However, it is essential that, once hired, women associates and junior partners know that they are being listened to and advocated for by their senior colleagues and firm management. Indeed, the pandemic has underscored the severe inequity between the personal and professional responsibilities between men and women, with women disproportionately bearing the brunt.  

“To ensure that all practitioners can find balance with their many obligations, I would challenge the legal profession to recalibrate its expectations on office hours, (virtual) face time, and internal deadlines. So long as clients continue to receive exceptional legal services, firms should consider allowing for a more flexible schedule to reaching that goal.”

Looking forward, Gabriel believes that the pandemic has provided an opportunity to take stock and recognize the different pressures colleagues are under, and how they can be best supported, as he comments:

“I have learned to transform my mentorship and sponsorship of associates in a virtual platform. While I communicate with my associates on a daily basis regarding our clients’ respective needs, I try to remain just as responsive when it comes to celebrating their professional successes and guiding their career trajectories. The key message is to remain open and available to my firm’s associates, and make it clear that I am rooting for their personal and professional successes as hard as we’re working for our clients.

“The past 12 months have taught me that I have been very lucky to have the support of my family. Lots of people do not have an extra set of hands (or two) to ask for help, so looking forward to 2021, I will remember - both during this pandemic and thereafter - that everyone has their own personal battle, and that it is my responsibility to offer time and support whenever possible.”