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#CovHasPride Spotlight Series: Roderick Dirkzwager

June 3, 2019

Resident in Covington’s London office, Roderick Dirkzwager is a Trainee in the firm’s Life Sciences Practice Group.

His interest in the field of law stemmed from obtaining a Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Hong Kong where he focused on malaria diagnostic research. Roderick later concluded that a lawyer's role in helping life sciences companies safeguard IP, understand their regulatory obligations and navigate corporate issues to be more appealing. He is a member of the Law Society's LGBT+ Lawyers Division and an OutNEXT Alumnus.

As a lawyer starting out in your career, how would you compare the climate with regard to diversity and inclusion between professional and educational institutions?

Before moving to London, I lived in Hong Kong which is an interesting place in terms of LGBT+ acceptance. Although many of the businesses, banks and law firms in Hong Kong publicly promote LGBT+ equality, there are no legal protections for LGBT+ individuals and it can be a taboo subject culturally. However, recent Court of Final Appeal cases which have granted spousal visa and employment benefits to same-sex couples are encouraging signs of progress.

As an openly LGBT+ lawyer in the UK, I have had only good experiences of acceptance, or even better, indifference! I recognize the privilege that comes with being a cis gay white man in London and I recognize that not everyone will have had the same positive experiences. My own experience, however, has allowed me to feel comfortable about being out and honest around my colleagues from my first day.

While it is great to see diversity and inclusion being a widespread focus for law firms in London, there is still a lot to be done to translate the various diversity and LGBT+ initiatives into more diverse hiring practices in the legal profession. In my opinion, LGBT+ individuals, myself included, have a responsibility to be more visible in the workplace. Increasing the visibility of our LGBT+ staff and lawyers is a great way to demonstrate Covington’s inclusive culture to our colleagues, clients and the broader legal community.

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