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OutLaw panel discusses ways to encourage acceptance of LGBTQ lawyers in the profession

Assistant Dean for Career Development Tiffany J. addresses University of Houston Law Center 1Ls during a information session in Krost Hall.

Judge Steven Kirkland, a 1990 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center, addresses students during a question and answer session.

Oct. 16, 2019 – Attorneys in the LGBTQ community said it is incumbent upon people of all orientations to create an inclusive atmosphere during a recent talk at the University of Houston Law Center.

The event was presented by OutLaw, a student organization for LGBT concerns devoted to the issues of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students at the school. The group is open to all students, regardless of orientation.

Participants included 334th Civil Court Judge Steven Kirkland '90, Scott Nichols an attorney at Clark Hill and Lionel Sims III of Martin, Disiere, Jefferson & Wisdom.

"When you see an LGBT lawyer who is struggling for acceptance, someone needs to step up and say, 'I'm here for you,'" Kirkland said. "My signature line in my email now has my pronouns on it, and I want to make sure to get pronouns right. I know it seems like a little thing and it's something older generations may struggle with, but if you make the effort you can be making positive inroads."

Nichols and Sims both expressed the importance of keeping an open dialog to encourage acceptance and tolerance of the LGBTQ community and others.

"Give allies the ability to participate and you'll get a good response," Nichols said. "Talk with the people you work with and talk with your clients."

"Tolerance cuts both ways," Sims added. "I make sure to always try and let people around me know that they should be inclusive and understanding. It creates a more respectful atmosphere.

“If you hear insensitive jokes, make sure you're correcting them. Even if you're not comfortable exposing your orientation right away, it's still a good idea to let people know it's not OK.”

The panel was sponsored by Latham & Watkins, Thompson & Knight LLP and Seyfarth Shaw.

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