Loyola law grads focus on LGBT law
Published: Friday, September 20, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 20, 2013 18:09
It was summer 2012, and Ryan Delaney, Loyola College of Law A’08, was on the verge of abandoning his legal career.
Unable to find a satisfactory job with other law firms, Delaney had just decided that his only option was to pursue other career paths when he was struck with an idea - The LGBT community lacked legal representation in Louisiana, and he would change that.
After reconnecting with fellow Loyola graduate Brandon Robb, A’08, Delaney’s goal of opening a private practice tailored the LGBT community was finally realized.
Delaney and Robb, Attorneys at Law, became the first private law firm in Louisiana to focus on LGBT cases, addressing issues such as estate planning, LGBT break-ups, adoption, and family law.
Robb said that there are sometimes problems identifying a law firm willing to take on LGBT cases, and this uncertainty can keep potential LGBT clients from pursuing legal assistance at all.
“We did this to create a comfort zone,” Delaney said. “People feel comfortable coming to us because of what we say we are. The LGBT community would be more willing to go to a law office with their problems if they did not have to wonder whether or not they would be helped.”
Monica Hof Wallace, Dean Marcel Garsaud, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law at Loyola, said she felt that LGBT-specific legal representation in the area was necessary and that Louisiana citizens need to be educated on the legal issues that the LGBT community faces.
“Because of the recent rulings of the Supreme Court, laws that affect LGBT clients are in a state of flux,” she said. “Having attorneys dedicated to understanding the issues, coming up with creative solutions for clients and advocating for advancements in the law is certainly beneficial.”
When dealing with LGBT cases, Delaney and Robb say that they face certain obstacles that would not be present in cases regarding heterosexual couples.
“A gay couple can’t adopt,” Delaney said. “So one of them would have to adopt individually.”
Even if one partner did adopt, Delaney said the other partner would still have no legal connections to the child.
“Partners will still be legal strangers, and there would be nothing they could do in extreme circumstances,” he said.
According to Robb, there would be no recognition of legal rights unless the couple took certain steps, such as writing a living will to ensure that, in the event of a death, property would be distributed fairly to the surviving family.
Robb said that the feedback he and Delaney have received for their services has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
“Both Ryan and Brandon were former students of mine, and I am thrilled that they have formed their own firm to address the needs of an underrepresented group in our city,” said Wallace.
Of their time at Loyola, both Delaney and Robb said that it influenced their work by providing an inclusive environment.
“I learned to value living a life where you’re doing something for others,” Delaney said.
After the success of the firm, Delaney and Robb stressed the importance of perseverance and remaining true to your beliefs.
“Be who you are. Don’t be afraid to run with your idea,” Delaney said.
Topher Balfer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction: September 20, 2013 - The headline originally read "Loyola law grads specialize in LGBT law." That is an incorrect interpretation of the practice's work, therefore it has been corrected.