As a law school's career development advisor, I am accustomed to fielding questions about what should or should not be included on a professional résumé. One recent question, however, caught me by surprise: Should I be out on my résumé and in my interview? I admit that in my role as the associate director of diversity at the University of Miami School of Law, I enjoy, and perhaps take for granted, the fact that I work in a diverse city, with diverse colleagues, for a diverse student body. Nonetheless, I was surprised because I did not expect that in a city like Miami, identified by Newsweek as one of the top 20 gay-friendly cities in the country (Richard Florida, "America's Top 20 Gayest Cities," Newsweek (July 19, 2010)), that being out professionally would present an issue. In fact, the question was prompted by conflicting advice a student had recently received from practicing attorneys.
To address the question for the student, at the suggestion of my boss and colleague, Marcy Cox, I invited several local attorneys to sit on a panel to discuss their experiences on being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) in the practice of law. The panel was comprised of both men and women, and it included one associate, three partners, and one recruiting professional. Their law-school-graduation years ranged from the earliest in 1958 to the most recent in 2006. Collectively, the panel had work experience that included a federal judicial clerkship and time at law firms of all sizes and in cities including New York; Washington, D.C.; and Miami. They were nearly unanimous in their advice to job seekers, recommending that they be out on their résumés and in their interviews. What follows are tips and guidelines stemming from the panel discussion.