Equal Opportunities Law Section plans education campaign July 15, 2001 Regular News Equal Opportunities Law Section plans education campaignEqual Opportunities, the newest section of the Bar, is planning its first big seminar that will tackle the controversial issue of affirmative action in law school admissions and law firm hiring.“We want to draw attention to ourselves and the existence of the section. And we hope that this will help us,” said incoming Chair Marcia Cohen, of St. Petersburg, who practices employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and civil rights law. Cohen will teach feminist jurisprudence at Stetson University College of Law this year, and recently spoke at the National Organization for Women’s convention, in Philadelphia, on the damaging effects on equal opportunities for women’s health care when religion-affiliated hospitals impose their directives regarding abortion and contraception.But the topic of the seminar, Friday, January 11, 2002, in conjunction with the Bar’s Midyear Meeting in Miami, will try to present a balanced look at the issue of affirmative action in law firm hiring and law school admissions. “So we’re going to have Professor Mark Brown, who teaches constitutional law at Stetson, to talk about what the Supreme Court has said affirmative action is.“We’re also going to do some fairly controversial things. But we hope to present a balanced view. We will have Leon Russell, past president of Florida NAACP. We will have Susan Woolridge, a white woman who is suing the state for not admitting her to law school, claiming her LSAT scores were higher than blacks admitted. We hope to have a representative of the Governor’s Office to discuss his One Florida plan,” Cohen said, of Gov. Jeb Bush’s initiative that ended affirmative action in college admissions but stopped short of banning minority scholarships or recruitment.“And we already have a commitment from Mary B. Hooks, secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment Security, who will explain the One Florida initiative, and Professor Ken Nunn, of the University of Florida law school, who will be explaining why he resigned as associate dean, as UF was not retaining or hiring minority law professors.”In addition to the seminar, Cohen said, the section is boosting its outreach efforts at law schools by encouraging students to join the section that bills itself as “focusing on issues involving equal access to the law and judiciary, while acting as a clearinghouse for the Bar and the public on issues relating to minorities, women, and the physically and mentally challenged; and to act as an advocate for them within the Bar and to educate them on their legal rights.”The law school outreach is working through minority law student associations, women law student associations, Hispanic law student associations, as well as disabled law students, to spread the word that you don’t have to have your law degree to join the section that now has 175 members.“I’ve already been talking it up at Stetson,” said Cohen. “Those are our major pushes of the year, once again hoping to swell our membership and raise the consciousness about this section among members of the Bar.”Last year’s chief accomplishments, said outgoing Chair Raul Arencibia, of Coral Gables, were “the bonds that we have made with the Florida Association for Women Lawyers and the Virgil Hawkins Chapter of the National Bar Association. We’ve collaborated on various activities, including the All-Bar Conference on diversity, and the Bar Annual Meeting luncheon of FAWL.“In the future, I think that voluntary bar associations and the Equal Opportunities Law Section will continue to work together to advance the interests of women, minorities, and disabled lawyers,” Arencibia said. “We look forward to many years of cooperation and collaboration on special projects.” Marcia Cohen “Really, there is a great confusion in people’s understanding of what affirmative action law is,” Cohen said. “So we’re going to get into some of the substantive law, as well. Of course, the law has always been that it is permissible to use race as a factor. I think the courts look like they are moving away from that type of rationale used in the Bakke decision (the 1978 decision that said universities may take race into account in college admissions).