LGBT Diversity in American, Canadian legal communities

One often receives email notices of events and conferences from the National LGBT Bar Association, an affiliate of the American Bar Association. This week, for example, there is word of the Houston Out & Proud Corporate Counsel reception honouring the Legal Department of  Shell Oil Company.  Canada doesn’t have an organization quite like the American Association, says John Mountain, Senior VP Legal and HR, Chief Compliance Officer and Corporate Secretary at NEI Investments.

LGBT diversity in the Canadian legal community tends to be advanced within multi-faceted Diversity initiatives, principally the Legal Leaders for Diversity comprising in-house counsel from more than 60 Canadian companies.
Mountain and another Legal Leaders member “recently hosted a roundtable of self-identified LGBT partners of large firms to talk about what needs to happen and how the LLD can help. We had a great session,” says Mountain, “and are hoping to publish a checklist of best practices for LGBT inclusion in law firms, which can then be used by me and other general counsel to ask the law firms we deal with to benchmark themselves.”

Mountain has also given talks to LGBT law students at the University of Windsor. “What I thought I would be talking about was my career as an openly gay lawyer. What I discovered they wanted to know were answers to the very same questions that I and the other students were asking 25 years ago – what are the attitudes of the firms to LGBT people, how do they handle articling interviews, do they out themselves ever or never, etc.”

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