Aug. 29, 2017

Law students create group to serve LGBTQ+ students

UCalgary Law launches chapter of OUTLaw

In recent years, UCalgary Law has seen an increase in student initiatives to promote equality and diversity in the legal profession. In 2015, the student club, Diversity & Law Society (DLS), emerged to promote diversity and multiculturalism in the study and practice of law. Students, the faculty, and the profession welcomed the club; in 2016, DLS won Lexpert’s Zenith award, which recognizes lawyers’ achievements in fostering diversity and inclusion in the profession and the community.

Against this backdrop of support and recognition by the legal community, 2017 marks another milestone, as it is the year the law school launched its own chapter of OUTLaw. OUTLaw chapters exist in law schools across North America, including all common law schools in Canada.

These groups are dedicated to serving LGBTQ+ law student community on campus and as they enter the profession through various activities. In Canada, OUTLaw chapters have banded together, in collaboration with other like-minded organizations, to apply (successfully) for intervenor status in the recent Supreme Court of Canada case regarding Trinity Western University’s application for accreditation of its law school.

Until this year, UCalgary Law was the only common-law school without a chapter. “When I joined UCalgary I wondered why we didn’t have a chapter, since our students respond positively to LGBTQ+ inclusive examples in the curriculum,” says Saul Templeton, faculty adviser for the student group. “There has certainly been a need and a desire for the group among LGBTQ+ law students, so I’m excited we’ve finally been able to get it off the ground.”

Third-year student, founder and now president of OUTLaw, Holly Wong, similarly recognized the need and benefits of such an initiative, for not only LGBTQ+ students, but the law student community and general profession.

“As we started the process to start the club, other law students quickly caught wind of it and were eager to volunteer their time and resources,” says Wong. “After a busy summer of planning and strategizing, the student executive has a number of initiatives planned for the upcoming school year, and we’re really excited to hit the ground running!”

With Calgary’s annual Pride Festival taking place Aug. 25 to Sept. 4, OUTLaw’s first initiative is an organized effort to march in this year’s Pride Parade on Sept. 3. Throughout the school year, OUTLaw will host a panel of lawyers, who will share their experiences on identifying as LGBTQ+ in the workplace and how allies can facilitate an inclusive environment, and co-host a mixer with other professional faculties to enable shared learning and networking.

OUTLaw has also collaborated with the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community Section of the Canadian Bar Association to help students engage with other allies and LGBTQ+ lawyers.

Lastly, student members of OUTLaw will have an opportunity to put their education into use by offering legal clinics and information sessions at Calgary’s Outlink.

“OUTLaw has a busy year, but its student executives and members could not be more excited for all that has been planned,” says Wong

For more information on OUTLaw or to get involved, please email outlawucalgary@gmail.com

Does your faculty or department have any Pride initiatives to share? Contact utoday@ucalgary.ca

Read more about LGBTQA resources on campus.