For Board Member Lousene Hoppe Schwarz, the National LGBT Bar Association has been a vehicle to getting more involved in the legal community at large. “The LGBT Bar has been a great way for me to get involved in the American Bar Association and in the LGBT community.”
Lousene’s first experience with the LGBT Bar was in 2004 when she attended our Annual Conference and Career Fair as a law student. “I wanted to get involved and to get to know some LGBT lawyers across the country. It was a great experience,” she says.
After graduating, Lousene applied to be on the Association’s board. She served as the LGBT Bar’s liaison to the American Bar Association (ABA) before becoming Chair of the LGBT Committee and Co-Chair of the Regional White-Collar Crime Subcommittee in the Criminal Justice Section of the ABA. While serving the ABA, Lousene was able to pass three resolutions that are related to LGBT interests. “I really credit D’Arcy [The LGBT Bar’s Executive Director] and my friends at LGBT Bar for helping me be able to create change,” says Lousene.
The resolutions she passed request that “governments of all levels pass legislation banning the use of gay and trans ‘panic’ defenses” and call upon state governments to remove laws criminalizing consenting adult sexual conduct. She was also a force behind the ABA’s recent Blood Ban resolution asking the FDA to “update its current policy” restricting the donations of men who have sex with men.
Throughout her involvement in both the LGBT Bar and the ABA, Lousene has attended the LGBT Bar’s Annual Conference and Career Fair as often as possible. “It has been impressive to see how much it has grown over the past 12 years,” she says. “It’s just astonishing how much interest there is from huge legal employers across the country.”
When asked why lawyers and law students should attend the LGBT Bar’s Lavender Law, Lousene replied, “There are so many reasons! It all depends on what you want to get out of it. There is something for everyone.” She recommends it as an opportunity to find out more about what is going on around the LGBT legal world, to be recruited, to find diverse legal staff, and to develop valuable skills and knowledge.
Lousene encourages other lawyers to “do something with [their] law degree that inspires passion” and to “consider how you can help others along the way.”
The National LGBT Bar is proud to have Lousene Hoppe as a longtime member and thanks her for her passion and involvement in the legal and LGBT communities!