The Haitian Lawyers Association (“HLA”) teamed up with several bar associations to holds its Diversity Forum for members of the judiciary.

The focus of the forum was cultural competency—i.e. highlighting issues with and proposing practical solutions to some of these issues. Gepsie M. Metellus, Executive Director for Sant La, served as the dynamic Keynote Speaker and moderator. On the panel, were Judge Scott Bernstein, Judge Rosa Figarola, Judge Andrew Hague, Marlon Hill, Esq., and HLA’s own Judge Fred Seraphin.
Among the many issues addressed were:

  • How our unconscious responses to diversity impact our professional attitude
  • What judges and attorneys can do to make the legal process easier for clients with language barriers
  • The intimidation from the bench for minority clients
  • Cultural differences among litigants
  • Diversity Mentoring throughout the legal profession

Judge Bernstein marveled at the Haitian food, music and art that was featured at the event, proclaiming “I have never seen anything like this!”

The forum can be summarized by the closing words of Ms. Metellus: “We have a responsibility to help each other become more competent.”

Co-sponsoring bar associations included the Asian Pacific Bar, Caribbean Bar, Cuban American Bar, Dade County Bar, Florida Muslim Bar, Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Bar, Jamaican-American Bar, Miami-Dade FAWL, National Bar Association, Puerto Rican Bar, and the Wilkie D. Ferguson Bar Association.

Story posted from July 2012 HLA Newsletter.