Message from the Chairs
Dear Committee Members,
Please allow us to introduce ourselves more formally. My name is Michael Stefanilo, Jr., and Nathan Pearman and I we are your cochairs for 2022! I hail from Boston (currently riding out the pandemic in Kennebunk, Maine), while Nathan calls Dallas, Texas, home. We both identify as LGBTQ+ litigators and are delighted to have you join us this year. I specialize in employment and civil rights litigation and often represent plaintiffs from the LGBTQ+ community in civil claims. Nate focuses his practice on commercial litigation and employment counseling and litigation. We are both also heavily involved in LGBTQ+ initiatives outside of the law. Follow these hyperlinks to learn a little bit more about Nathan and me.
While we have gotten off to a bit of a late start to the ABA year due to some leadership changes and other challenges, we have an exciting lineup of programming planned for you over the next several months. We hope that you’ll join us in advancing the mission of the Committee and helping it to deliver relevant and exciting content for the entire Section!
First, in early March 2022, we will be posting Part I of a three-part Sound Advice column featuring GLBTQ Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) Senior Attorney Ben Klein. Ben is lead counsel in GLAD's recent challenge in Maine, Doe v. Sunrise Assisted Living. We spoke with Ben not only about his recent filing, but also about the state of GLAD’s impact litigation in general, and about being an LGBTQ litigator in 2022. We look forward to sharing Part I with you this month!
Next, in April, we are cochairing a webinar with the Corporate Counsel Committee. Our program will be focused on Religious Accommodations and LGBTQ+ rights. We have some fantastic participants lined up for this, including Lauren Mutti from Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, as well as several EEOC panelists. CLE credits will be available for this virtual event! Stay tuned for more information and please join us.
In May, at Section Annual Conference, we are a presenting committee for a panel “Othering & Smothering: Creating Thoughtfulness Without 'Thought Policing' for DE&I efforts in the Legal Profession.” This panel, led by Gretchen Bellamy (in-house counsel for McDonald’s) will explore how to address the “backlash” to diversity, equity, and inclusion in order to truly address representation and “otherness” in the jury settings and in our law firms or corporate environments. We also intend to reach out to law school affinity groups in Miami and the surrounding areas to invite them to join us at SAC for a cocktail hour to network and build membership and community. We are hoping this might become an annual tradition for our committee and ask that you plan to join us!
Finally, in June, to celebrate PRIDE month, we will be featuring a roundtable discussion with multiple LBGTQ+ judges who have volunteered to share with us and the Section their unique pathways to the bench. ABA Roundtables offer an opportunity to dive into a topic of interest for 30–60 minutes, hear a speaker, and pose questions. If you’re interested, we are looking for someone to assist in getting this off the ground.
If you’re looking for more networking opportunities, we are also presently looking for a subcommittee chair to volunteer to lead us in themed virtual happy hours quarterly. We would like to begin in March with St. Patrick’s Day if possible, and then plan on getting together again in June to celebrate Pride month! Please contact us to get involved! We would love to have a subcommittee chair to lead this effort.
Leading up to PRIDE, we are also intending to feature a committee member monthly on ABA Communities as a way for us to get to know one another on a deeper level, and to share what challenges and obstacles the members of our communities have faced, or continue to face, in their careers as LGBTQ+ litigators. Nate and I will kick it off next month and will be reaching out to membership for volunteers to share their stories!
While we are ambitious in what we plan to accomplish this year, we very much welcome your ideas and participation, particularly in the following ways:
We are actively seeking subcommittee chairs. If you have an interest in a particular area, including but not limited to programming, marketing & membership, or virtual networking, please, please, please reach out to us! We cannot do this without you!
Members are also invited to write on issues in their area of expertise or issues of concern to the LGBT community—we are always looking for authors, and speakers too, and these opportunities can be great for exposure and marketing to a wide audience.
We are also trying to cosponsor virtual events with law firm affinity groups, local state bar association LGBT groups, and LGBT law school groups. If you are tied into any of the above and have an interest in co-sponsoring a virtual event or participating in one of our events, please reach out to us and let us know!
We also look forward to resuming our normal in-person interactions at the Section Annual Conference in Miami in May. Until then, please reach out to us to get involved and let us know your ideas. Also, stay tuned for the rollout of our exciting spring/summer programming!
Michael & Nathan