Diversity in Law School
The Law School Experience
Classroom Climate and Academic Programming
Exposure to LGBT issues in law school classrooms is important for all students who will ultimately be practicing in a diverse society. It is particularly important to students who may have come to law school hoping to pursue a legal career focused on the LGBT population. Incorporation of LGBT issues in the curriculum and programming signals that LGBT persons are fully valued and integrated into the law school environment. The offering of one LGBT-specific course is a good start, but does not necessarily indicate real integration for LGBT persons at that school. Talking to current students or faculty and asking questions will help in assessing the degree of integration for LGBT persons and issues at a law school.
Student Organizations and Activities
Many law schools have LGBT student organizations, which can serve several purposes. They can increase LGBT visibility and create a safe place for LGBT students to be themselves. They can also organize educational programs that inform the law school and broader community about LGBT legal issues. Some student organizations are very active, mobilizing students and faculty to advocate for important institutional reforms, such as increasing LGBT course offerings, hiring LGBT faculty, and developing LGBT-specific programming.
While the fact that a school has an LGBT organization is important, if you are interested in how active the organization is and how well it is supported by the institution and students generally, you may want to get ask a few important questions.
Other Institutional Support
Despite significant improvement in the climate for LGBT students in law schools and the legal profession over the past 10 years, LGBT students may still face discrimination or barriers that are different from other traditionally disadvantaged groups. Many law schools are proactive in acknowledging and addressing these issues, and have instituted policies to try to combat these barriers. You can assess how proactive and responsive schools are to the needs of LGBT persons by asking questions.
According to a recent LSAC survey of applicants, job success of graduates is the most important factor considered by all applicants when choosing a law school. LGBT students may have unique concerns in this area. For example, some students have questions about whether they should be "out" in the interviewing process, how to field questions that may seem inappropriate or contain "hetero" assumptions, and how to find law firms that are LGBT friendly.
It is important to try to find out how proactive and qualified a school's career services personnel are in addressing LGBT concerns. You may want to ask your contacts at the law schools that interest you some questions regarding their career services department.