As it is Pride month Meagan Leightley interviews Tate Smith, Junior Legal Secretary at Clifford Chance and current undergraduate at Birkbeck, University of London. He is a Trans Representative at his Students Union and is Director of Firm Outreach at Queer Lawyers of Tomorrow a network for LGBTQ+ aspiring lawyers. Tate tells us a bit about himself, his experience of being in the legal profession and some advice for some budding future lawyers.
Could you tell us what a bit about yourself and how you entered the legal profession?
I’m a 21-year-old trans man currently working at Clifford Chance as a Junior Legal Secretary and studying law part-time in the evenings at Birkbeck, University of London. I failed A-Levels miserably and so decided to do a CILEx Level 3 Legal Secretary course and went straight into working.
How have you found your experience to be LGBTQ+ in the legal profession?
My experience has been very positive, mostly because I’m not alone and there are plenty of support networks and other open like-minded individuals like me. I’ve found law firms are very innovative in the way they approach LGBTQ+ rights.
Do you believe the legal profession is doing enough to encourage individuals from the LGBTQ+ community to join the field and what more could be done?
I believe so yes, especially with 12 of the Stonewall 100 Top Employers being law firms, as well as the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Government Legal Department. That being said, not every law firm has a trans policy and that is extremely to protect trans and non-binary individuals transitioning in the workplace. Even for those who don’t transition their needs to be policies in place regarding bathrooms, dress code and protection from harassment.
If you had one bit of advice to anyone in the LGBTQ+ community wanting to enter the legal field what would it be?
Don’t be scared to enter the world of law because you’re LGBTQ+ as you’re not alone! You’re about to enter one of the most innovative and growingly diverse fields and there is plenty of support for you.
Article by Meagan Leightley