LGBTQ Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Profession: The Basics and Beyond

Wesley Bizzell, Senior Assistant General Counsel and Managing Director of Political Law & Ethics Programs, Altria Client Services , USA

In the past decade, much has changed for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer (LGBTQ). LGBTQ characters are frequently featured in movies, broadcast and cable television shows, and advertisements. Same-sex marriage is now legal in every jurisdiction in the United States, given the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. In the U.S., 21 states protect LGBTQ employees from being fired simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In many instances, major corporations and large law firms helped lead the way in convincing Americans that LGBTQ individuals should be treated equally. However, while much progress has been made, much work remains to ensure that our society and our workplaces are welcoming to all diverse individuals, including those who are LGBTQ. Many companies, law firms, and their leaders want to support their LGBTQ employees, but may not fully understand the workplace challenges faced by this community or how to address them.

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USA Identity Industry February 2020 Vol.13, No. 50, Winter 2020

Wesley Bizzell

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Wesley Bizzell serves as Senior Assistant General Counsel, External Affairs and Managing Director of Political Law & Ethics Programs for Altria Client Services LLC (“ALCS”). Mr. Bizzell provides in-house legal counsel on matters relating to the political, legislative, and lobbying activities of Altria Group, Inc. and its companies. Previously, Mr. Bizzell was an attorney in Winston & Strawn LLP’s Federal Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs Practice Group. His career also includes more than six years on Capitol Hill, where he served as an aide to Arkansas Senators David Pryor and Dale Bumpers. Mr. Bizzell is an authority on political compliance law and is active in the compliance legal community. He chairs the Conference Board’s Committee on Corporate Political Spending, a committee of leading American corporations dedicated to accountability, education, and engagement on issues of corporate political activity. For four years, he served as co-chair of the Conference Committee for the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (“COGEL”), a professional organization of government officials with responsibilities or interests in governmental ethics, elections, campaign finance, and lobby laws. In 2018, COGEL awarded Mr. Bizzell its highest honor, the COGEL Award, for making a “demonstrable and positive contribution to the fields of campaign finance, ethics, elections, lobbying and freedom of information over a significant period of time.” Mr. Bizzell is extremely active in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal and corporate communities. Currently, he serves as President of the National LGBT Bar Association, the leading association for LGBTQ lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals. He has been named by London’s Financial Times (2017 and 2018) and Yahoo Finance (2019) as one of the 100 worldwide OUTstanding Leading LGBT+ Corporate Executives for his work on diversity and inclusion issues. Chambers and Partners also named him the 2019 In-House LGBT+ Equality Lawyer of the Year for his dedication and commitment to LGBTQ diversity programs and his efforts to advance LGBTQ professionals in the law. He is a 2014 LCLD Fellow and is a co-founder of Altria’s LGBTQ Employee Resource Group, Mosaic, where he chairs its Culture, Inclusion, and Connection Committee. Mr. Bizzell graduated with a B.A. in justice, magna cum laude, from the American University in Washington, D.C. and received a Master of Social Work with a focus in public policy from the Catholic University of America. He received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as an editor for the Georgetown Law Journal. He was a member of the inaugural class of the Stanford Graduate School of Business’ LGBTQ Executive Leadership Program. He is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia bars.

Altria Client Services

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Altria is the parent company of Philip Morris USA Inc., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. LLC, John Middleton Co., and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd.

USA Identity Industry February 2020 Vol.13, No. 50, Winter 2020

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