Name: Carey Haughwout
Job Title: Public Defender
City: Palm Beach County, FL
Leading an Office of Trial Lawyers
The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division kicks of its #LWW interview series this week with Carey Haughwout, the Public Defender of the 15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County.
Carey has served as the Public Defender since 2001 and has practiced criminal law since 1983. She is a board-certified criminal trial lawyer and a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. As the Public Defender, Carey manages a 200-person staff and maintains an active trial practice of homicide cases. Under her leadership, the office was recognized by the Florida Association of Women Lawyers for being family friendly.
#LWW: How did you attain your current position?
CH: I was elected to this position in 2001.
#LWW: Which woman inspires you and why?
CH: Many women have been role models for me over the years but I would have to attribute my mother with the greatest inspiration. My mother was not a professional but always encouraged me to have a career and made me believe I could pursue any path I chose. She also raised me to believe that we better ourselves by doing for others.
#LWW: What is the greatest challenge you faced in getting to where you are today?
CH: Running a countywide election with no political experience!
#LWW: What are the unique challenges faced by women in your area of practice?
CH: The legal profession has come a long way in accepting women—particularly in the courtroom. When I began practicing I was told “women belong in the bedroom and kitchen, not the courtroom.” Today some of the most respected trial lawyers are women. However, there is still a little of the old “you have to be better to be equal.” I see that as a challenge and believe it has helped me be a better lawyer.
#LWW: What will be the biggest challenge for young women lawyers in the next 10 years?
CH: Balancing work with the desire to raise a family. Many law firms still make it very difficult for women to have a family and continue to progress in the firm. Adequate maternity leave is often not permitted and paternity leave is not as accepted as it should be. As a result, the responsibilities of caring for infants still rests primarily on the woman.
#LWW: What can be done to accelerate gender equality?
CH: Expanding the Family Medical Leave Act to permit longer maternity leave and passage of the ERA!
#LWW: What advice do you have for young women lawyers today?
CH: It is a wonderful profession but one that requires a great deal of time and dedication if you want to be good. What I like about it the most is it is a constant learning process but as a result it is always challenging. To stay on top, you must always be willing to learn and grow.
#LWW: In your position, what do you do to promote women in the profession?
CH: I have a number of women supervisors in order to provide role models. I hope that I am a role model as well. All our lawyers receive extensive training and guidance so they can be great lawyers!