January 23, 2012 Articles

Being Yourself as a Gay Trial Lawyer

By Amy E. Davis

It's no secret that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) lawyers face unique challenges in the workplace. Fear of discrimination and harassment cause many of us to check a large part of ourselves at the workplace door. When you are a trial lawyer, the workplace extends into the courtroom, where you are told you must "be yourself" to win the hearts and minds of jurors. But what if you fear that being part of the LGBT community could cause the jury to dislike you—and by extension, your client?

I recall my first trial as lead counsel. Out of the box, the opposing counsel introduced herself to the panel. I cringed as I heard her talk about her marriage, her children, and her father who was a preacher. How could I follow that act? What would the panelists think if I mentioned my same-sex partner or that our only children had four legs?

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