National LGBT Bar Association member Ryan H. Nelson views the legal profession as a means of preventing discrimination at its root. He is Corporate Counsel for Employment Law at MetLife and an Adjunct Professor of Law at New York Law School where he teaches Employment Law. “I chose to go into employment law to have the opportunity to prevent discrimination, rather than just respond to allegations,” says Ryan. “I work to ensure that the tens of thousands of employees at MetLife work in a culture that fosters non-discrimination and inclusion.”
He first attended the LGBT Bar’s Annual Lavender Law® Conference and Career Fair as a law student, attending “solely to get a job and to network” with other LGBT and ally legal professionals. Since becoming an LGBT Bar member a decade ago, Ryan has grown in his role at Lavender Law®. When he worked for a law firm, he encouraged the firm to attend the conference and career fair. “Within a week of starting at MetLife,” Ryan says, “I was named MetLife’s liaison to the Bar. Now I coordinate all MetLife activity with Lavender Law®, which gives me an opportunity to further MetLife’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
In recent years, Ryan has spoken on panels at Lavender Law®, which contributes to one of his favorite aspects of membership with the LBGT Bar. “The LGBT Bar gives me the opportunity to share my views and opinions on furthering LGBT equality in the workplace and beyond in ways that allow them to spread and grow,” he says. Another important aspect of the LGBT Bar, according to Ryan, is the Bar’s ability to bring people together. He met one of his best friends at his first Lavender Law® Conference and Career Fair; both were law students at different schools, but the conference was a shared experience.
Ryan is also on the recently formed Justice Council. He values the opportunity to give back in “a unique and valuable” way. “Our donations can really begin to make the substantive changes that we want to see in the world; the Justice Council is a chance to give back so that change is reflected in a greater way.”
The most important feature of The LGBT Bar, according to Ryan, is the opportunity it provides LGBT attorneys and allies to connect with each other, advancing a much-needed discourse on how to better LGBT lives in numerous ways. “Whether you work in employment law or family law or criminal law, our members have insights specific to the LGBT community and as a result we understand a lot of these complex issues through a unique lens. It is vital that we have LGBT and ally attorneys speaking out and trying to fix the problems of today using these insights, because otherwise LGBT clients suffer.”
Ryan believes “without insights from attending Lavender Law® CLEs and the Bar’s networking and social activities, [he] would not be as strong of an advocate.”
The LGBT Bar is grateful for Ryan’s membership and his many contributions to our association.