A Busy 2018 at LGBT Bar LA
As LGBTQ+ Lawyers LA approaches its 40th anniversary in 2019, we look back with gratitude and pride on 2018 -- a year of dynamic programming and service spearheaded by a dedicated Board of Governors, and launched with the commitment of our many talented association members and volunteers. The breadth of this year’s activities cannot be captured adequately here. We offer instead a few highlights, with the hope of inspiring others to join and build upon our progress.
LGBTQ+ Lawyers LA proudly kicked off its first Trans Trailblazer Award event, recognizing the pioneering work of the Honorable Victoria Kolakowski, the first openly transgender judge in California, and the second openly transgender judge in the United States. Other luminaries we honored in 2018 included Gavin Grimm, who at great personal peril successfully championed the rights of transgender students in public schools; Bet Tzedek, a dedicated and talented team of professionals providing free legal expertise to tens of thousands of persons every year who would otherwise be denied access to vital services; and the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers, whose creative and visionary professionals have generously donated thousands of hours, spanning decades, to advancing the rights of members of the LGBT community.
Some of our committees were busy blazing their own trails in 2018. Our Pro Bono Committee gathered volunteers and joined other service organizations in assisting homeless veterans in the annual Veterans Stand Down at the VA in Los Angeles; provided free legal services at the Legal Name and Gender Marker Change Clinic at Bet Tzedek; and volunteered their legal talents at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
The MCLE Committee launched its inaugural LGBTQ Family Law Symposium; organized an Elimination of Bias program on Trans Day of Visibility; presented an insightful teleconference on the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision; trained volunteers for the Legal Name and Gender Marker Change Clinic at Bet Tzedek; and reminded all of us of pitfalls for the unwary in presenting “The Top 10 Professional Responsibility Traps.”
Law students always bring terrific ideas to LGBTQ+ Lawyers LA and this year was no different. We enjoyed meeting a record number of students from Southern California law schools at our annual Rand Schrader law student reception. We co-hosted a mixer for summer associates at the offices of our stalwart ally Akerman LLP. The law student mentoring program paired practicing attorneys with students from several law schools. We wholeheartedly supported and assisted Pepperdine Law School students in changing the name of their LGBT student organization to Pepperdine OUTLaw.
Our activism saw us co-hosting the Los Angeles Minority/Ethnic Bar Association Meet & Greet with now Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom, where we articulated the ongoing concerns of the LGBT community. In the broader legal community, we forged connections with our sibling bar associations within the Multicultural Bar Alliance. We also initiated discussions with LGBT bar groups throughout California about forming a new statewide California LGBT Bar Alliance.
The Women’s Committee and the Social Networking Committee made huge splashes with multiple monthly dinners, brunches, happy hours, concerts, and other fun events. Informal gatherings foster increased membership and involvement in LGBTQ+ Lawyers LA.
The Judicial Endorsements Committee completed another busy year evaluating LGBT candidates seeking state court judicial appointments. The Committee expanded its reach to evaluating candidates for appellate courts, and to considering those seeking appointment outside of Los Angeles County. Committee members counseled prospective candidates on the complex appointment process, and introduced judicial applicants to LGBT judicial mentors.
And finally, we launched a new website, introducing new content and fresh features. LGBTQ+ Lawyers LA updated and expanded its weekly newsletter, and elevated its social media presence.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to LGBTQ+ Lawyers LA’s success in 2018! We welcome all to get involved in myriad upcoming events in celebration of our 40th Anniversary. Under the leadership of our terrific incoming Co-Presidents, Madison Fairchild and Eryk Escobar, LGBTQ+ Lawyers LA will continue to serve proudly in 2019.
Meehan and Peter
T. Peter Pierce