Ann Israel is the legal profession's Dear Abby. A New York legal recruiter since 1979, Ann is a past president of the National Association of Legal Search Consultants. Advice for the Lawlorn is updated every Tuesday.
Dear Readers:Two weeks ago I responded to a question from "Out" regarding identifying a future employer's attitude toward LGBT attorneys (along with several other issues).
Last week I received an e-mail from the assistant dean for Career Development & Diversity Initiatives at Tulane University Law School. I found his message to be so informative and instructive that I decided (with his permission, of course) to reprint his e-mail this week in place of answering another question. I send much thanks to Dean Carlos Dávila-Caballero.
My regular format will return next week -- keep those questions coming.
President, Ann Israel & Associates
Dear Ms. Israel: Thank you for responding to Out's question. I agreed with your response, particularly the latter part.
I must say that I found the question lacking in due diligence, since there are many resources currently available for out LGBT attorneys. This topic is routinely covered at various forums throughout the country every year, and I'll note some of the most noteworthy.
First, the NLGLA does a terrific job educating professionals about this topic. And, in fact, its Lavender Law Conference now hosts over 150 national employers. Any employer attending this event is committed to recruit LGBT talent, including laterals, and the conferences provide an amazing opportunity to network as well.
NLGLA and Lavender Law Conference
The NALP Web site also contains LGBT resources related to the legal profession/search. One of the resources, GLBT contacts, reflects organizations throughout the states that may provide Out (depending on city) local contacts who can assist with local market information about GLBT friendly environments.
NALP -- GLBT Resources
Of course, any GLBT job seeker -- regardless of industry -- should review the HRC Corporate Equality Index. The Index "provides an in-depth analysis and rating of large U.S. employers and their policies and practices pertinent to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors." It does include law firms, and there are over a dozen firms with a perfect HRC Index rating. That's where I would start.
HRC Corporate Equality Index
I'd be negligent if I failed to highlight MCCA's Lavender Book. It is a compilation of articles and research related to the topic. Again, I was surprised that an out midlevel corporate associate may not be familiar with the MCCA or its Lavender Book. I guess we need to continue spreading the good gospel.
MCCA -- Lavender Book
Finally, I do think that individuals who are at a stage in life where their sexual orientation is important should reflect relevant information on their résumés that mirrors their orientation. Relevant is a high threshold. It means professional organizations such as NLGLA, active membership in local bar diversity committees and even HRC affiliation, should the others listed be less conspicuous.
Large law firms and corporate environments publicize their diversity initiatives on their Web sites. Therefore, it is easier for applicants to locate relevant information. Smaller employers, including medium-size firms, may not. It's often best to be removed from consideration earlier in the process -- for candidates in Out's situation -- if the employer is not welcoming to GLBT attorneys.
And, again, this information is relevant since professional affiliations signal potential client development and expanded books for future employers.
I believe sexual orientation can be one of the aspects covered within the marketing materials and/or interviews, as long as the discussions and responses reflect skills, professional affiliations and publications relevant to the targeted employer/position. The notable lawsuit is clearly out, no pun intended.
Carlos Dávila-Caballero, JD
Assistant Dean for Career Development & Diversity Initiatives
Tulane University Law School