Lactation stations and breastfeeding facilities are required for bar exam participants
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Bar admission authorities, bar associations, law schools and legal employers must establish clear and consistent policies that provide accommodations for people who are breastfeeding, the ABA House of Delegates resolved Monday.
According to the Young Lawyers Division, which submitted Resolution 501, these written policies should be publicly available online and ensure “reasonable and supportive accommodations for expressing milk.” This includes 30-minute “out-of-hours” breaks for each three-hour exam session; a private or semi-private space with a chair, table, electrical outlet, sink and refrigerator or space to store a cooler; and clear instructions on how to access the space.
He further asks that policies allow law students and bar candidates to bring their breast pumps and expressed milk into the exam room.
“Quite simply, the lack of housing for people who are breastfeeding creates a barrier to the practice of law,” said Daiquiri Steele, a representative for the Young Lawyers Division in the House of Delegates, who introduced the resolution.
“Even where space is provided for breastfeeding people, it is often insufficient, requiring milk to be expressed in inherently unsanitary environments, such as bathroom stalls, or environments with insufficient seating that lack privacy or do not have electrical outlets for lactation equipment and supplies,” she added. “This structural inequity interferes with the delivery of justice not only by presenting a barrier for breastfeeding individuals who seek to enter the profession, but also by interfering with the ability of current lawyers to also participate in the profession.”
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The American Civil Liberties Union and Law Students for Reproductive Justice conducted a survey in 2015 to determine which states offered accommodations for people who breastfeed during their bar exams.
According to report Accompanying the resolution, their findings show that 45 states have only posted information about accommodations for people with disabilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act on their bar examiner websites. Lactation and breastfeeding are not considered disabilities under the ADA.
The ACLU and LSRJ say 10 states have since revised their lactation accommodation policies. These states are Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas, and West Virginia.
Michelle Browning Coughlin, founder and president of MothersEsquire, a national nonprofit that advocates for gender equity in the legal profession, also spoke out in favor of the resolution. She shared her own personal story of pumping on an old couch in a basement bathroom at her law school library.
“About 60% of mothers don’t breastfeed for as long as they intend due to unsupportive work policies and lack of parental leave, among other similar factors,” said Coughlin, who is also a member of Commission on Women in the Profession. . “Law students and lawyers who are mothers frequently report that they need breastfeeding accommodations that are simply not provided.
The Commission on Women in the Profession co-sponsored the resolution.
The House of Delegates addressed a similar issue in 2019, passing a policy encouraging legislatures, judiciaries and bar associations to establish and maintain lactation zones in courthouses.
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