This workshop seeks to answer the question of how law school faculty, law school administrators and career services directors, and law students identifying as LGBTQ+ can engage in an honest discussion about challenges they face as they enter the legal profession. Far too often, career services directors and staff ignore the predicament LGBTQ+ law students face as they seek employment in a state without sufficient legal civil and criminal protections. Should a career services director guide a LGBTQ+ law student, who is not living openly, into a job offer from a firm without a strong diversity footprint? Or, one that does not demonstrate a strong culture of inclusion and acceptance of minority attorneys? What if that offer is from a firm or a company located in one of the five states without criminal hate crime laws? Or, if the offer is from a state that does not protect the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals from on-the-job discrimination? How should career service directors have these conversations with students who are closeted? Matthew Shepard believed that he had a career ahead of him in the foreign service or as a diplomat. He enjoyed living overseas, traveling, and engaging in thoughtful conversations with those who were different from him. One of his lasting legacies is that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or sexual identity, should be welcomed into any profession and should be accepted and valued for who they are. Following a brief review of the mission and work of the Foundation started by his parents and that bears his name, the speakers will discuss the challenges LGBTQ+ law students and young lawyers face as they enter and navigate a legal career. Additionally, the speakers will discuss the broad and expansive effects of bias crimes, especially on those individuals who were not directly targeted, to demonstrate the catastrophic impact of the expression of hate. The workshop will conclude with a discussion of substantive steps veteran attorneys can take to enhance the legal experience of LGBTQ+ law students and young lawyers.
Speakers: Cynthia Deitle (Matthew Shepard Foundation); Melanie Wilson (University of Tennessee College of Law); Judy Shepard (The Matthew Shepard Foundation)