In his professional and personal life, LGBT Bar Association President Eduardo Juarez values the importance of both looking to history and moving LGBT equality forward.
As a Supervising Trial Attorney for the San Antonio Field Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Eduardo has been a witness to some of the most important social developments of our time, including the increasing visibility of people of color, women, and the LGBT community in professional settings.
Eduardo’s deep appreciation of the past sacrifices made by LGBT diversity and inclusion trailblazers in the legal profession informs his work each day at the EEOC, where he litigates individual, class and systemic lawsuits under the federal civil rights statutes prohibiting employment discrimination. Before his employment with the EEOC, Eduardo began his legal career as an Associate with the law firm of Sidley & Austin in Chicago, Illinois.
“When I graduated from law school in the late 1980s, LGBT diversity, in most sectors of the legal profession, was difficult to see or measure due to the proverbial ‘closet’ and the prejudice that hid or limited many of us. We owe a great deal of our current progress to yesterday’s LGBT legal pioneers who courageously took great risk, at times suffering discriminatory backlash,” Eduardo observes.
Eduardo’s own legacy of pioneering participation in the State Bar of Texas LGBT Law Section led to his involvement with the National LGBT Bar Association in 2008, when he attended his first Lavender Law® Conference and Career Fair in San Francisco.
Eduardo states that he was “immediately attracted to the LGBT Bar’s members and mission,” leading him to volunteer with the Bar in progressively complex roles. Prior to his current role as Association President, Eduardo initially volunteered for and then became Chair of the LGBT Bar’s Membership Committee before serving two years as Association Secretary.
Because of his immense personal investment in the LGBT Bar, Eduardo says that the Bar has returned dividends for his own practice and recommends that LGBT Bar members looking to take full advantage of their membership should also consider getting more involved in the Association.
“It is my relationships and friendships with the good people of the LGBT Bar that have greatly advanced my professional progress. I continually learn about the law, in its myriad and emerging forms, by interacting with the brightest legal minds. Just as important, I observe and learn much from my colleagues’ actions in facing challenges, in leading and collaborating and in balancing personal and professional obligations,” Eduardo notes.
Eduardo’s past leadership in the Bar and in the LGBT legal community more broadly have led to accolades for his work, including the EEOC Pride “Chai Feldblum Award” for his significant contributions to the LGBT community in 2014.
In addition, Eduardo has received praise for increasing the LGBT Bar’s timely and much-needed focus on the self-care and wellness of LGBT attorneys. Indeed, a troubling study by the American Bar Association in 2016 found that more than a third of legal practitioners in the United States struggle with problem drinking and that 28 percent of practicing attorneys grapple with depression.
“My work with the LGBT Bar has included raising awareness about the alcoholism, addiction and mental health challenges faced by some LGBT lawyers, as well as the recovery and Lawyer Assistance Programs available to help address these challenges. The Lavender Law® Conference, for example, now includes recovery meetings on every day of the event,” Eduardo highlights.
As President of the Association, Eduardo says that he looks forward to cultivating the relationships and programming that make the LGBT Bar the gold standard of diversity-based bar associations.
In addition, Eduardo has underscored his commitment to working with other identity-based bars, given that LGBT identities intersect with all other identities, including those of women and people of color. For instance, the LGBT Bar is co-sponsoring the Hispanic National Bar Association’s first-ever LGBT Summit on March 16, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Eduardo says that he hopes the LGBT Summit will be the first of many collaborative efforts between the LGBT Bar and other identity-based bar associations during his presidency.
“Over the next year, the LGBT Bar will continue to marshal the key people and facilitate the spaces and tools for legal professionals to learn, network and collaborate on the myriad legal issues of import to the LGBT community in all its diversity,” Eduardo pledges.
While the achievements of the LGBT legal community in past decades have been astronomical, Eduardo promises that his presidency will continue to focus on the immense work ahead to secure justice and inclusion for LGBT legal practitioners.
“Although the advances have been great, much work still remains to realize true diversity and to stop and subvert systemic discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the legal profession,” Eduardo emphasizes.
Under Eduardo’s experienced and passionate leadership in 2016, the LGBT Bar Association is sure to rise to new levels of achievement and advancement in its continuing mission of honoring the past and looking forward to a bright future.