Legal Eagle

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City Attorney Margaret Plane will help expand diversity in the legal profession as she joins American Bar Association’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Salt Lake City Attorney Margaret Plane has added a new side gig to her already-packed lawyer life, and she’s thrilled about it.

The American Bar Association has named her to the group’s Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI), where she will help guide discussion toward policies that expand greater diversity, inclusion and support for LGBTQ legal professionals.

“It’s very civil rights-y,” Margaret says, with a grin, while sitting in her fifth floor office in the City and County Building. “This is exactly the kind of work I love to do.”

Margaret is already actively involved in the ABA as the State Delegate for Utah to the association’s House of Delegates. Each state sends one delegate to the House, the ABA’s policy-making body. She has previously served on the ABA’s Disability Commission.

“Margaret’s long-time commitment to civil rights and inclusion for all make her a perfect appointee for the SOGI Commission,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “We have made progress in protecting and promoting the legal rights of LGBTQ people, but there is much more to do. Margaret will help lead important discussions and set policy that can impact the justice system in Salt Lake City and the nation.”

Her appointment to SOGI came in August 2016, so a concrete agenda for the panel’s work is still forming, Margaret says. But certainly, SOGI will continue an effort 22 years in the making to undertake the issue to add a new section to the ABA’s Model Rule of Professional Conduct. The new language would state that any harassment or discrimination in the practice of law, including against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, would be grounds for an attorney’s professional misconduct.

The ABA has visited the rule change twice since 1994 but has yet to adopt the stricter approach to harassment and discrimination in conduct related to the practice of law.

“Discussion around gender identity and sexual orientation is very much on people’s minds these days, and also in the legal profession. I hope the third time is the charm,” Margaret says. 

“It’s critical the ABA leadership continue to reflect the full and equal participation of its diverse membership and that all members know they are welcome and their needs are being met by the association,” Margaret said.

Margaret has been with the city since 2007. She became City Attorney in 2013. In her position, she advises the executive and legislative branches on all matters of city government. She oversees proper administration of the city’s legal affairs, including federal and state litigation involving civil rights, employment, and torts. Margaret previously served as legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Utah.

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