Firm/Employer: Office of General Counsel, School District of Palm Beach County
Law School: Shepard Broad College of Law, Nova Southeastern University, 1990
Year admitted to practice: 1990
Year joined PBCBA: 2004

A. Denise Sagerholm

What is your current practice area?

My current practice area is diverse. It encompasses various areas of the law that impact public education including governance, administrative law, policies, legislations, overall compliance in all aspects of education law as it pertains to the public school system in the state of Florida and nationally.

Please provide a short bio of your background:

I have been in the legal profession for over (35) years, (7) as a Paralegal, and (30) as an attorney. My practice has been very diverse and involves various areas of the law including business transactions, commercial litigation, employment law, civil rights, and since 2001, primarily education law. I have taught 2nd-year law students business transactions, ethics, legal search and lawyering, skills, and values. I have served as a co-general counsel for the Fort Lauderdale chapter of the NAACP. I have been the supervisor facilitator of the CDI (PBCBA) law student internship summer program for my office for the past several years, and I currently serve as a member of the LGBTQ+ attorney advisory group for public school students and staff affiliated with equality in Florida. 

What adversity have you faced because of your diverse characteristic and how did you overcome it?

I have faced various forms of adversity over the (35) years in the legal profession. They include various forms of discrimination – including sex/gender, unequal pay, disapparate treatment, denial of promotions/advancement opportunities, etc. I have attempted to overcome these impediments through my strong work ethic, background experience, knowledge of the laws’ with support groups/committees such as the (PBCBA’s) Committee for Diversity & inclusion and the LGBTQ and attorney advisory group. 

Why is diversity important to the practice of law in Palm Beach County?

In order to properly represent everyone fairly and equitably, with justice for all, then legal representation should reflect the demographics and characteristics of the community it serves. Furthermore, we in the legal profession have an inherent duty and obligation to rid the legal system of the system racism and sexism that has been in existence for over 400 years. Without diversity in the legal profession, this will not be accomplished.