Jay Larry went to undergrad and later law school at Vanderbilt University, where he cast a wide net studying English and History Interdisciplinary Studies, Spanish, Film Studies, and Philosophy. It was his Philosophy of Law class together with his Securities Regulation class that made him “fall in love” with the work he’s doing now as a third-year associate at Bracewell LLP.
“When the show Billions was getting started, [I thought] ‘that could be my life!’,” Larry recalled. “[Actual practice] is not quite as dramatic, which is a good thing!”
Larry lives out his Billions-esque dream in the Corporate and Securities group at Bracewell. Half of his work involves mergers and acquisitions, and the other half revolves around capital markets, corporate governance, and Exchange Act reporting. “The work is really interesting because you can work with folks in the C-Suite [and] meet people who are guiding the future of the company and steering where the company is going. [You have] a front row seat with people who are making really big decisions about large public companies and [get to] help them guide the futures of these enterprises.”
He credits his natural curiosity as the force that originally drew him to the law. Larry was always asking, “Why is that like that? What are we trying to accomplish?” and describes himself as a “tinkerer” by nature. In his day-to-day working with clients, he takes each specific set of circumstances into account, asking “Why should I draft this agreement this way for this particular deal, [when] it wouldn’t work this way for another?” Larry’s holistic mindset helps him to cater to his individual clients more readily.
Co-Creating a Culture of Difference as Belonging
As a board member of the National Trans Bar Association, Larry believes that one of the biggest issues folks in the LGBTQ+ attorneys face in Big Law practice is “not feeling like [they] can be their authentic selves, where they can bring the entirety of who they are, to the workplace. Part of networking and eventually becoming a trusted advisor for our clients involves forming authentic bonds with others and really getting to know them. It’s subtle, but people can usually sense when you’re holding something back. If you are not working in a space where you feel comfortable being authentic with your colleagues and clients, it becomes a lot harder to enjoy what you do and get really good at it.”
“There’s a mutual curiosity where you can talk [with each other] and learn from each other.”
As LGBTQ+ people, we’ve built our community on belonging and honoring each other’s differences within our community. This same ethic is what we hope to see with each other, despite us having to work through our own discomfort. Larry says, “When I was younger, I had the misconception that in order for me to feel comfortable working with folks outside of the LGBTQIA+ community who have views of the community that differ from my own, it would be hard to connect with them and our relationship couldn’t grow or evolve. As I’ve gotten older and started working with people who are different from me and have different worldviews and different life experiences, I’ve come to the conclusion that people don’t have to agree with my views, as long as we can have thoughtful, respectful conversations around certain topics. There’s a richness that comes with conversing with people who have never met someone in the community, have done some homework, and are respectfully trying to gain a new perspective. There’s a mutual curiosity where you can talk [with each other] and you learn from each other.”
As a law student, Larry remembers going through his 1L year, “[the year] that we all try to forget, but can’t!– and trying to find a job and worrying about grades and all that.” He spoke to the questioning, self-doubt, emotional rollercoaster, and overall concerns of being a LGBTQ+ law student. More than anything, he wants law students to know that, “You do need to be aware of the fact that you should be very careful when trying to identify a work culture that works for you, yes – but there are a lot more opportunities where you can be completely happy and fulfilled than people think that there are. I think the world has changed a lot more than people might think. There is room. There are opportunities. I think it just comes down to finding the right fit where you feel comfortable being the person you are without stifling that beautiful part of yourself just because you work in some company or big firm.”