Recently, Legal Aid of Manasota had the privilege of being the recipient of the Sarasota chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL). Founded in 1984, the group’s goal is to mentor female attorneys through membership, client referrals and networking. FAWL also does a lot of work to get laws changed in support of women—major initiatives have included making sure lactation rooms are available for new mothers in all courtrooms; fair child leave practices for new parents; and support for equal rights and equal pay for women.

“On the state level, one of our biggest initiatives is assisting attorneys who are also new mothers by implementing lactation rooms in the court houses,” explains Rachel B. Schadt, an attorney at Teresa K. Bowman, P.A., and Sarasota FAWL’s head of membership. “We want to promote female attorneys in leadership roles; reformation in law; facilitate in the administration of justice; actively promote gender equality and leadership roles in the judiciary; as well as uphold the highest standards of integrity, honor, and courtesy in the legal profession.”

Sarasota FAWL hosts multiple events throughout the year, and Schadt says the goal at each one is to encourage members to donate to a worthy cause in the community. At the group’s recent Installment Dinner, guests were asked to bring gift cards for Legal Aid of Manasota’s “Legal Lifeline for Youth” program (made possible thanks to support from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation).

Because Legal Aid of Manasota does not receive state funding, we rely on donations like the ones from FAWL’s members to continue to provide our services. A gift card for the Legal Lifeline for Youth Program can be used to help a child purchase a jacket for a court appearance, or other necessities, like toiletries or school supplies.

“So many of our members have a relationship with Legal Aid and with Pam Fields [Legal Aid’s pro bono coordinator], so the thought was that Sarasota FAWL should help to support Legal Aid,” Rachel says. “When you support Legal Aid of Manasota, you support the community.”

For more information about Sarasota FAWL’ and its upcoming events, visit