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September 10, 2012

Students attend annual Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair

A number of Oregon Law students attended the 2012 Lavender Law Conference & Career Fair, hosted by the National LGBT Bar Association, from August 23-25.The National LGBT Bar Association is a national association of lawyers, judges and other legal professionals, law students, activists and affiliated lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender legal organizations. The LGBT Bar promotes justice in and through the legal profession for the LGBT community in all its diversity.

Below is a reflection on the conference by second-year law student Adam Walters

The LGBT Bar Association's Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair provided a unique opportunity for networking in 2012 in Washington, D.C., where branches of the Armed Forces as well as the Department of Justice, EPA, and some federal bureaus were present at the conference. I found recruiters animated about D.C. living, and quick with tips for applying to federal departments. One recruiter even name-dropped a current Oregon Law student he had enjoyed worked with over the summer. 

The conference panels were a highlight. The Department of Justice described its environmental justice program, emphasizing the value of community outreach and negotiation in their legal practice. I learned about the Department's interest in collaborating with citizens' groups and other community actors to address environmental problems. The representatives were particularly enthusiastic about the overlap between environmental violations and class discrimination. The topic merged well with my favorite panel, a caucus of over two-dozen legal aid practitioners. Their experiences spoke to the diversity of LGBTQ clientele, who are distinguished by economic, racial, and social variations as well as sexuality and gender. Internal discrimination in the LGBTQ community is an uncommon topic. It makes for thoughtful reflections hearing from attorneys about clients whose personal prejudices conflict with the common goal of advancing equality. 

Lavender Law gave me new perspective. For one, it demonstrated a rift within the LGTBQ community: some are living happily and prosperous in the status quote; others remain obscure and outcast, running-in with the law rather than practicing it. In another respect, the conference expanded my awareness for potential career routes. I gained new contacts to follow-up with for future opportunity. Also important, I enjoyed getting to know my fellow Oregon Law students better. Ours is a small yet diverse group of LGBTQ individuals and allies. I am proud in knowing that our contributions to Oregon Law are disproportionate to our numbers. And I am fortunate to attend a law school that supports our participation in nationally significant events like Lavender Law.

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