Historically, society has not been a good ALLY towards the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, also known as Queer, (LGBTQ) community. Law firms are not exempt from the intolerance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, also known as Queer, community. These negative attitudes may still affect how law firm staff unintentionally interact with LGBTQ clients.
As part of Best Virtual Paralegal, LLC commitment advocating for our friends, family, and colleagues within the LGBTQ Community here are some helpful tips to assist your law firm in becoming more of positive influence, a stronger advocate, and overall ALLY for LGBTQ clients.
1. Make your office space friendly to LGBTQ people.
Due to the years of intolerance and discrimination faced by many LGBTQ people, an LGBTQ client still may assume that a law office is unfriendly towards the LGBTQ community until he or she receives a clear, direct indication otherwise. Use visual cues to indicate your office is a safe and welcoming legal services provider towards the LGBTQ community. Here are a few ways to transform your reception area and your website to nurture a healthy relationship with LGBTQ clients:
- Have literature in your lobby and conference rooms with articles that have positive messages about the LGBTQ community;
- Include materials in your firm’s resource displays specifically for LGBTQ clients;
- Include images and other materials on your firm’s websites which include LGBTQ people; and
- In the footer of your website draft, a statement that indicates your office welcomes LGBTQ clients.
2. Train your staff to use language that does not implicitly assume or state a client’s sexual orientation or gender.
This can be hard for some employees to grasp or understand; therefore it’s recommended that you train your staff to form a habit to use inclusive language that does not assume the gender of a client or a significant other or spouse of a client. Here are a few tips and recommendations to help reinforce your firm’s all-inclusive language training:
- Revise your intake forms to ask questions aimed at nurturing and gathering your client’s preferred gender identity without being rude or curt;
- Use the revised all-inclusive intake forms with all clients so that you do not unconsciously make decisions about people based on your assumptions and personal experiences;
- Train your staff to use the name and pronoun that your client prefers. You should ask opposing counsels, court clerks, and judges to do so too. If you are unsure what name or pronoun to use, ask.
- Think about revising your internal document assembly procedures to include a footnote or endnote explaining that your documents will use your client’s preferred name and gender identification.
- Some firms find it is helpful to remind support staff that an LGBTQ client’s legal issue may not be directly related to his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. But your team may still need to assist him or her with coping with anxiety, stress, and real fear related to hostile attitudes and irrelevant arguments or issues that may creep into the case.
3. Reach out to organizations, other law firms, and paralegal companies who have experience working with LGBTQ legal issues to help your firm build a co-op of resources for all clients.
- This can include simple things like hiring a consultant to help your firm with client relations and sensitivity training.
- Or You can try volunteering and offering to host legal workshops to share information about effective legal strategies, and other tips aimed at helping the LGBTQ community understand the law and legal issues, which may affect them.
The laws affecting the LGBTQ community are complicated and are continually changing. Don’t unintentionally add to the complexity of the legal process by failing to educate, guide, and help your staff in understanding the importance of reinforcing and nurturing positive interactions with the LGBTQ clients.
Help your law firm stand out and stand up for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, also known as Queer community by becoming a more positive influence and a stronger advocate for all clients.
Does your law practice want to learn what it can do to be a better ALLY to LGBTQ clients? Best Virtual Paralegal, LLC can help! Contact us today “We’d love to schedule a time to talk more about some of your delegation and team challenges and explore how we can work together!”