ORLANDO – Retired Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Gill Freeman was recognized for her support of gender diversity in the legal industry at the recent Florida Bar convention in Orlando.
Gill received the Outstanding Jurist Award from the Florida Bar’s Young Lawyers Division. The award is given in recognition of excellent reputation for sound judicial decisions and integrity as a lawyer and judge.
“To me, it means I did a good job and that I did much more than just be a judge,” Freeman told the Florida Record. “I was very active in judicial education. I was dean of Florida Advanced Judicial Studies College. I was chair of the circuit court of education so it was sort of recognition for all of the things that I have mastered and done."
Freeman, who served as the chair of the Florida Supreme Court’s Diversity and Fairness Committee from 1999 to 2011, started in the area of gender diversity and fairness in 1994, when issues began arising on a national level on the treatment of women in the legal profession in the court system.
During this time, she created a gender bias study that was issued in 1990 and became chair of the state Supreme Court’s Gender Bias Study Implementation Committee, which evolved into her position on the court’s diversity and fairness committee, where she dealt with issues on the subject.
“Teaching and trying to educate judges on fairness issues was extremely challenging," Freeman said. "You have to come at it in a way that wasn’t touchy-feely because most judges are not that type. They’re more black and white. It was devising ways in which I could reach them on a level that they could accept. It was very challenging.”
Freeman recently accepted a position at JAMS, a private provider of mediation and arbitration services. She will be based in the JAMS Miami Resolution Center, and participate in a variety of disputes focusing on business, commercial, construction, construction defect, estate, probate, trusts, family law, professional liability and real property.
While only being with JAMS about a month, Freeman did reminisce about her judicial responsibilities.
“I will, of course, miss it on a lot of levels, but doing mediation and arbitration is sort of an interim way of keeping my fingers still in the legal communities," she said. "I’m also going to do some things with The Florida Bar in respect to gender and fairness issues. I’m not quite ready to fade off into the sunset.”
Freeman practiced commercial, insurance, securities and family law for 20 years. She received her Bachelor of Science cum laude from Temple University and her juris doctorate cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law.
At the convention, awards were also given to U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell of the Fort Myers’ Orange County Bar Association and law professor Robert Dale Bickel of Stetson University.