How to Make the Most of Your Lavender Law Experience

Michael Appel, who recently began working as a Manager on Google’s Corporate Communications Team, first attended the National LGBT Bar Association’s Annual Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair as a rising 2L. While there, he participated in the Career Fair and talked with his former internship employer, Chicago’s Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, and numerous law firms from around the country. Towards the end of the fair – in fact, his last interview of the day – Michael met with two attorneys from Crowell & Moring LLP. Looking back, he is so glad he decided to stop by and talk to the attorneys with the yellow rubber ducks, because he received and accepted an offer from Crowell later that month.

Due to his experience, Michael views Lavender Law as more than just a conference. He sees it as an opportunity to start – or change – a career and, most importantly, to make long-lasting connections. “Lavender Law is a place of rich professional development and even richer networking opportunities,” he says. “It is a safe place for everyone to learn, talk, grow, and solve problems.” Michael is so fond of Lavender Law that he and his friends make it a point to try to attend every year.

Long before his first Lavender Law, Michael knew he wanted to become a lawyer while learning about his grandfather’s law career and discovering “his own love to debate and problem solve,” as he puts it. “The legal field enables individuals to incorporate critical thinking in their daily lives,” he says. In fact, Michael considers legal training to be essential to becoming an analytical and effective problem solver.

Serving as the University of Iowa’s Graduate and Professional Student Body President as a 3L taught Michael that crisis management is where he thrives. After practicing at Crowell & Moring LLP for a few years, he moved on to crisis management consulting, and has now joined the Corporate Communications team at Google and aids the company – as he explains – in thinking through how to prepare, respond, and manage risks that threaten everything from the company’s reputation to its culture.

Michael’s engagement with the LGBT Bar goes back to his days as a law student. While at the University of Iowa College of Law, he recognized the need for schools to be connected with important groups like the National LGBT Bar Association, especially schools with little to no resources for LGBT students. This is why why he volunteered to serve as the Regional Chair for the Midwest on the LGBT Bar’s Law Student Congress, which also led to his first attendance at Lavender Law as a 2L.

Now a seasoned Conference attendee, Michael’s advice for Lavender Law attendees this year is to make sure they make the most of it and have fun. Lavender Law is a great way to see everyone once a year, but he emphasizes the need to keep in touch and sustain more meaningful relationships with the people you meet at the Conference. “If you are a student,” Michael says, “do your research, plan out who you want to talk to, and go there and talk to them. Ask people to coffee and make sure you go to the whole Conference, not just the career fair. Participate in panels, listen to issues that are important to you, and bring that learning back to where you are in school and create positive change.”