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Bilzin Sumberg, Greenberg Traurig, and Holland & Knight Come Together for a Discussion on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with The Honorable William Thomas

Press Release
February 11, 2021
Miami, FL - On February 8, 2021, Bilzin Sumberg's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee hosted a virtual discussion with The Honorable Williams Thomas on diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal profession. The event was held in conjunction with local commercial law firms Greenberg Traurig and Holland & Knight, with attorneys and staff from all three firms in attendance. A widely respected Circuit Court Judge on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, Judge Thomas was invited to speak as part of Bilzin Sumberg's collaboration with Greenberg Traurig and Holland & Knight on raising the consciousness of diversity, equity, and inclusion among Miami's legal professionals during Black History Month.

The program opened with remarks from Kelly-Ann Cartwright, the Directors Committee Chair of Holland & Knight, highlighting the achievements of Judge Thomas, including his work as an Assistant Public Defender and an Assistant Federal Public Defender for Miami-Dade County and the Southern District of Florida respectively, before being elected to the Circuit Court for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit for Miami-Dade County, where he has served for the past 18 years.

Judge Thomas focused his talk on the historical context within which today's racial discontent and strained race relations have developed. He discussed the economic and social policies at the state and federal levels that have disadvantage African Americans, as well as how willful and systemic bias has created a relentless cycle of high poverty, low education, and lack of opportunity for the African American community, which has developed into racial tension and social disharmony in our society.

During the Q&A session moderated by Albert E. Dotson, Jr., Managing Partner of Bilzin Sumberg, Judge Thomas talked about the way forward for achieving greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession. He opined that the two greatest challenges to effectuating change in the legal community when it came to diversity and inclusion was the lack of resources aimed at young people from underrepresented communities to learn about the practice of law as a career, and the lack of mentorship opportunities for professionals from these communities once they had started practicing law. Educating young people about the rewarding prospects of the field of law prior to college, and then providing them with valuable mentors in the profession to build their technical expertise and business development skills, were crucial for strengthening the diversity, equity, and inclusion of the professional pipeline. Judge Thomas also emphasized the importance of candid and open discussions about race and other forms of diversity in professional settings because of their ability to galvanize change, and warned that treating uncomfortable issues with silence would only perpetuate inequity and misunderstanding.

Jaret L. Davis, Co-Managing Shareholder of Greenberg Traurig's Miami office, closed the discussion by thanking Judge Thomas for his valuable insight, and reminded attendees that the event served as a form of calibration, allowing them to reassess how best they can enhance meritocracy in the legal profession going forward.

About Bilzin Sumberg

Bilzin Sumberg works with clients whose business and legal opportunities and challenges span the United States and cross borders to Europe, Latin America, Canada, the Middle East, and Asia. The firm's growth has paralleled that of its Miami home base, a region known for its rich cultural, social, and professional diversity. Bilzin Sumberg lawyers concentrate on services at the heart of both regional and international commerce, including real estate, land development and government relations, environmental, corporate law, joint ventures, domestic and international tax and estate planning, business litigation, finance, and public/private partnerships. For more information, please visit bilzin.com.
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Albert E. Dotson, Jr.

Albert E. Dotson, Jr.

Managing Partner
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