A panel of openly gay attorneys suggested to Law Center students that noting sexual orientation and lifestyle affiliations on a resume, or alluding to these details during a job interview, may actually prove beneficial in this age of diversity.
“Firms are jammed with resumes,” said John Grantham ’07, a litigation associate and member of the hiring and diversity committees at Akin Gump, “so whatever distinguishes you, whatever makes you stand out, is a plus.” Law firms and corporations are looking to attain certain demographics, he said, and many law firm clients are “ruthless” in making sure they do. “The more boxes you can check, the better off you are,” he told students during a discussion hosted by Outlaw, a student organization devoted to the issues of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender students. Kent Rutter, a partner at Haynes and Boone, agreed. “It’s not going to hurt you, and it can help you” especially given today’s tight job market, he said.
In dealing with the question of when, or if, to raise the issue of lifestyle, the four panelists agreed that sexuality is not an issue in most office settings today. Rebecca Robertson, a litigation partner at Baker Botts, said it generally becomes known, evolves and is accepted in the natural course of developing personal and professional relationships. State District Judge Steven Kirkland ’90 said with a laugh that it can become obvious, for instance, when a lawyer arrives at a “spouses and significant other” social event with their same-sex partner.
How you present yourself is important – but so, too, is how you perceive the job interviewer and potential co-workers. “Even in this job market, one thing you don’t want to do is work for a place that is going to be oppressive,” Judge Kirkland said.