#BreakTheBias

Break the Bias theme photo

Dr. Ann Olivarius, Senior Partner, writes about breaking the bias this International Women’s Day

Photo of lawyer Dr. Ann Olivarius with paperwork.
Ann Olivarius, Senior Partner on breaking the bias.

Bias is the twisted funhouse mirror that reflects a distorted and unjust reality back to us. Bias is what makes injustice seem natural – unavoidable, even.

Bias are the glasses we can never fully take off. Although we can try to peer over, under and around them, no one can be entirely without bias. But together, we can help each other see clearer, and break the systemic bias holding women and girls back.

Bias words against women

At our firm, we use civil law to smash biases. Whether it’s the bias that a British couple seeking to adopt would not be good enough parents for a baby not of their skin color, or the bias that keeps women in medicine from getting the promotions or pay rises that they deserve.

Bias can also stop us from recognizing when an injustice has been done. One of our clients struggled to make police even acknowledge she had been hurt and that she deserved justice and help, such was the bias against both violence against women and internet-based privacy violations. Chrissy Chambers helped break the bias against so-called revenge porn and today both the legal and cultural landscape look very different than it did in 2014.

Biases also act as an eraser, turning victims into people who don’t deserve and need our help. That was the case for our clients at Warwick University. They approached their university for help, after finding out that a group of fellow students had exchanged the most violent and degrading messages about them on a WhatsApp group. The university’s gender biases and general bias against internet crimes led them to treat the girls as somewhat complicit in their own abuse, and to refuse them help.

“To me, #Break the Bias means smashing every glass ceiling that still exists. It means acknowledging the additional layers of bias against women of all backgrounds. To truly be intentional in intersectionality is to empower women against sexism and oppression across borders, sexualities, abilities, religions, and races. That is why I started my career in law. ” – Jair Beckles, Legal Analyst

Jair Beckles crossing arm for break the bias

Supporting frontline Bias Breakers

Here are some organisations and groups who #BreakTheBias and we love to support. If you want to support them too, see specific IWD campaign details below.

Give Her Justice - Centre for Women's Justice campaign graphic

This year the Centre for Women’s Justice (UK) takes part in the women and girls match fund, meaning every donation they receive between 8 March – 15 March 2022 will be doubled! Their #GiveHerJustice campaign is raising money to challenge unfair convictions of women who have offended due to being subjected to domestic abuse.

Center for reproductive rights logo

The Center for Reproductive Rights is a global human rights organization of lawyers and advocates who ensure reproductive rights are protected in law as fundamental human rights for the dignity, equality, health, and well-being of every person.


Listen to

Ann’s IWD special interview on What The Fundraising podcast with Mallory Erickson.

Ann Olivarius Sexual Harassment in Fundraising podcast
Ann Olivarius Sexual Harassment in Fundraising podcast quote

I will always be grateful for your unwavering support of me. Equally, I will always be grateful for showing me how to find my voice and strength.

Title IX case against UCLA, client confidential

It was such a weight off our shoulders; suddenly somebody else with a lot more experience was managing the case.

Sandeep Mander, Mander v. Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

We really thought that there was nothing that anybody could do for us. We were wrong.

Dr Celeste Kidd, Aslin et al v. University of Rochester et al

To get the result you got you must be as tough with your legal opposites as you are kind and understanding to your clients.

AOA client, confidential

Compared with other law firms I’ve worked with, no one matches the combination that McO has of experience, brilliance, ferocious fighting and deep empathy for their clients.

Dr Holly Atkinson, Atkinson et al v. Mount Sinai Health System, Inc. et al

Because my case could not bear public scrutiny, a very powerful institution used massive financial resources to try to crush me for asking for my disability rights. This was a huge mistake, as they didn’t know that I would obtain McO representation. I couldn’t ask for better representation.

Disability Rights client, confidential

I would like to say from bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you to all the team. Now I can go and forget my former employer. God bless you all.

Unfair Dismissal client, confidential