Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders announces the addition of staff attorney Zack M. Paakkonen, who will focus his work on legal issues facing the transgender community as part of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project. Paakkonen joins the legal team on September 3.
“With so much work still left to be done to secure legal and social equality for transgender people, Zack Paakkonen is a tremendous addition to our legal team,” said legal director Gary Buseck. “With his experience advocating on behalf of transgender clients inside and outside the courtroom, he’s ready to hit the ground running as GLAD continues its cutting-edge work on transgender legal issues.”
Paakkonen brings to GLAD significant experience advocating for the rights of transgender clients in a variety of contexts. In 2008, he and his law partner Alice Neal founded West End Legal, LLC, in Portland, Maine, a general practice firm focusing on the needs of the local LGBT community. Paakkonen’s work included representing transgender clients in matters of family law and other probate matters, advising clients regarding discrimination matters in school and employment, handling matters involving youth in a variety of contexts, and advocacy for transgender people within the penal system and within state government on public policy matters.
“While I’m proud of the work I’ve done for the transgender community in private practice, I’m excited about the opportunity GLAD gives me to have a broader impact on improving and expanding legal protections for the transgender community in New England and across the country,” said Paakkonen.
Paakkonen contributed a chapter on legal protections for transgender youth to Transgender Family Law: A Guide to Effective Advocacy, the first book to comprehensively address legal issues facing transgender people in the family law context, which GLAD published last year.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with this hire. I know from past collaboration with Zack that he is a passionate and effective advocate for the community,” said Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project and co-editor of Transgender Family Law. “I’m excited to work with Zack on expanding the reach of the Transgender Rights Project.”
Prior to founding West End Legal, LLC, Paakkonen was with the firm Nadeau & Associates, P.A., where his practice areas included civil and criminal litigation, bankruptcy, real estate and probate. He is a graduate of Cornell Law School and holds a B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Southern Maine, Portland. He is admitted to the Maine Bar and the Federal Bar for the District of Maine and is a rostered Guardian ad Litem in Maine. And he is a member of the National LGBT Bar Association, the National LGBT Bar Association Family Law Institute and the National LGBT Bar Association Transgender Law Institute. Paakkonen is also a member of the Maine Guardian ad Litem Institute and the Maine Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.