Griffith Law School and McCullough Robertson launched a new mentoring program for LGBTI+ law students at the firm’s Brisbane office this week.

Law students are matched with a LGBTI+ lawyer or a member of the ‘McR Ally Network’ for six months. The mentoring program is part of the firm’s ‘McColour’ initiative to foster a more inclusive and diverse environment for staff, clients and the wider community.

Griffith Law School Dean and Head of School Associate Professor Therese Wilson said she had no hesitation in working with McCullough Robertson when they approached her.

“We know there are additional challenges for LGBTI+ students as they enter the profession, where they feel that they can’t be their whole self at work and it detracts from what should be a positive milestone,” she said.

The LGBTI+ student mentoring program is led by Griffith Law School alumnus Michael Bidwell, a lawyer at McCullough Robertson and co-founder of their diversity initiative ‘McColour’.

“This is a significant day for me personally and I am very proud to be entering into this initiative with Griffith. During my studies I always felt supported by my peers and that my professor kept an eye out for me,” he said.

Michael says he decided to push for more LGBTI+ inclusion after witnessing the discussion around same sex marriage and experiencing homophobia in the legal industry.

“I knew if I did not stand up and speak out, the next generation would face the same difficulties I had. I am so proud of who I am and the progress that continues to be made towards inclusion,” he said.

While Michael acknowledges the path to true equality is a long way off, he has learned to celebrate steps in the right direction.

“Our mentoring program sends a strong message to millennials, including over 48% of LGBTI+ millennials who reportedly aren’t out yet at work, there are people in our industry who will support you,” says Michael.

Marcus Bell is one of three Griffith Law School students participating in the mentoring program and while he felt strongly supported coming out at High School and work, he wanted to be involved.

“I wanted to show my support for these important programs and to show others that there is support out there,” he says.