Calling all LGBTQ+ alumni – OutLaw needs you to mentor first year students.
“Connecting with someone who’s built a practice as an openly LGBTQ+ lawyer can transform law school from an isolating experience to one that feels full of potential,” says OutLaw president Jasper Katz. “Our LGBTQ+ students need to see that they can thrive in this profession, and the more connected they can get to the LGBTQ+ legal community now, the more opportunities they’ll see for success.”
Faculty advisor Lee Carpenter agreed. “While the legal profession is, in some ways, more diverse and inclusive than ever before, it can still be a very conformist culture. LGBTQ+ folks still have to make choices about whether, when, and how to disclose or conceal parts of themselves, which can have an impact on their mental health and their professional effectiveness. Temple’s alumni community includes many lawyers with a lot of wisdom to offer about practicing while LGBTQ+, and our students will really benefit from the chance to connect with them a little bit,” she said.
A recent US News article offering tips for selecting LGBTQ+-friendly law schools included suggestions for researching the type of support offered by the school’s LGBTQ+ student organization – something Katz takes very seriously. “It can be hard to tell what a school will be like before you get there, but knowing that there are lawyers ready and willing to support you as an LGBTQ+ student can make a world of difference,” they said.
As with existing mentoring programs run by BLSA and the Women’s Law Caucus, the commitment expected from alumni is designed to be minimal: one in-person meeting, preferably during the fall semester; email access for the purpose of fielding reasonable questions from the mentee; and a willingness to alert the mentee to networking or professional opportunities.
Notably, while mentors should identify as LGBTQ+, there is no requirement that they practice in any particular field of law. Carpenter also stressed that even young alumni have more to offer than they think. “Our students aren’t looking for someone with all the answers,” she said. “They want someone who remembers law school as a gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, or transgender, or non-binary law student, and can offer hope that if and when our students struggle, it will be worth it.”
To learn more about becoming a mentor or to volunteer, please contact Jasper Katz at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and pronouns, best e-mail address to reach you, area of practice or job, and any other information you think would be relevant.