How 'Out' Should I Be on My Attorney Resume? |

How 'Out' Should I Be on My Attorney Resume?


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Question: I’m an openly gay, third year corporate associate currently working in a Top 10 AmLaw firm. I’m looking to lateral to another top firm. How “out” should I be on my resume?

Answer: This is a timely and important topic and I’m glad you raised it. Generally speaking, it is a lot easier and safer to be out in law firms these days—and that has positive implications for your search. Many of the top AmLaw firms as well as several mid-sized regional firms have made impressive strides in their LGBT Diversity initiatives and there is increased emphasis on law firms hiring diverse candidates. Consequently, the way is paved in several firms across the country for openly gay and lesbian lawyers to be out and proud of who they are in the job search process. Given this, the short answer to your question is, be honest up front. After all, why would you want to work for a firm that doesn’t accept you for who you are?
That said, I do understand that things can get complicated in this area: there can be multiple variables to consider when making this decision, especially if you are working in a smaller market in a more rural or conservative community. In addition to considering the progressiveness of the city and community in which you live and work, you may also have to think about your own level of comfort in divulging something very personal about yourself; the duration and success of your job search thus far; and what you are willing to sacrifice, perhaps only in the short term, to get what you want. For some people, sexuality is a very private matter that they do not wish to be discussed or divulged either in the hiring process or with their colleagues. For others, it is imperative to be boldly out up front—and not succumb to outdated beliefs and attitudes, even to secure employment. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision that should be evaluated on a case by case basis; you are in the best position to determine what you most need and what is most right for you in your job search.

It has been a while since I’ve heard of a law firm blatantly discriminating against an LGBT candidate in the hiring process because of their sexual orientation. However, I have seen firms reject candidates who have resumes that are heavily loaded with public interest externships and internships. In this instance, the employer is concerned about the candidate not having any experience (or genuine interest) in a law firm. Not surprisingly, many diverse candidates summer at public interest organizations that are dedicated to promoting LGBT rights. While law firms may admire a candidate’s commitment to the cause, they are often concerned that the applicant lacks the necessary hands-on, practical experience of working in a firm—and they question that the candidate is really serious about firm life given their heavy public interest past. In this instance, I do recommend trimming out some of the public interest internship experience, particularly for positions that are very short in duration.

For more information about law firm diversity, see our Diversity Resources.

Learn more about law firm diversity in this in-depth book:
Law Firm Diversity: How Race, Gender, Age, Social and Economic Divisions Impact the Hiring, Retention and Advancement of Law Firm Attorneys

About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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