Firm/Employer: Law Office of Jeffrey R Hickman
Law School: Florida A&M University
Year admitted to practice: 2014
Year joined PBCBA: 2019
This year, the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion has launched a “This is What We Look Like” campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to display and highlight the diversity within the Palm Beach County Bar Association. Oftentimes, there is a perception of what an attorney should look like. Generally, that perception does not reflect the diversity of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, and disability of our members in the Bar Association. As a young, Black, female attorney, I have been the recipient of many “you don’t look like an attorney” comments and stares. As the Chairperson for this campaign, I am excited to champion a venture that challenges people’s preconceived notions about just what an attorney looks like.
Please provide a short bio of your background:
I am currently an attorney with the Law Office of Jeffrey R. Hickman, Staff Counsel for GEICO General Insurance Company. I was born and raised in a low-income neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Raised by a single mother, my two siblings and I were latch-key kids. I went to public schools my whole life. Nothing was given to me. I worked hard, despite adversity, to become an attorney. Seven years ago, I graduated from Florida A&M University College of Law.
What adversity have you faced because of your diverse characteristic and how did you overcome it?
Despite my accomplishments, and the fancy headshot accompanying this article, people are sometimes surprised to hear that I am an experienced trial attorney. I work for one of the largest insurance companies in the country, yet when I tell people what I do for a living, their reactions are often priceless. Years ago, on the way back from a European vacation, the airport security representative asked what I did for a living. When I said attorney, she looked surprised and sat back in her seat, with eyes gaping wide at me. Followed with one word. “Really?” I nodded politely, “Yes.” At that moment I thought to myself, why was it so hard to believe that I was an attorney? Then I remembered that this was not the first time I have been met with a wide-eyed surprise when the reality of my profession is revealed. Many women of color in professions dominated by white men can share stories of being mistaken for something other than what they are, such as the court reporter, intern, or assistant.
Why is diversity important to the practice of law in Palm Beach County?
The new reality is that the legal industry is more diverse than ever. Our generation of attorneys are young, passionate, and cover a spectrum of different races and ethnicities. Although I am not what people commonly imagine when describing a person in this noble profession, it is a new world, and this is what a lawyer looks like! Over the next year, we will highlight attorneys in the Bar Association of various races, sexes, sexual orientations, religions, and disabilities. We hope to dispel stereotypes and display the rich diversity of the Bar Association.