By Caleb Simpson
Stephen Kulp has shown tremendous success in his career while providing substantial ongoing support for the LGBTQ+ community in and out of the legal profession. Kulp earned his B.S. in Political Science and J.D. at Drexel University in a joint accelerated degree program. He recently joined Tucker Law Group in Philadelphia as a litigator specializing in civil matters across various sectors. He is a recent addition to the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association’s Board of Directors, acting as a representative for local and state bar affiliates. Stephen Kulp has also been named to the Class of 2022 National LGBTQ+ Bar Association 40 under 40 award.
Kulp recognizes the importance of representation, especially when combatting imposter syndrome. Kulp proudly acclaimed that he was attracted to Tucker Law Group for being Black- and women-owned. “When I was looking to make a career change, representation was extremely important to me. To see colleagues, partners, and supervisors as mentors in the practice of law but also as leaders for their community and surmounting the odds and hurdles that we all have overcome as diverse people was important, and I found that at Tucker.” He appreciates that the firm celebrates his civic work for the LGBTQ+ community, and feels pride in working at a firm that both supports his identity and maintains a successful litigation practice.
Mentorship Is Imperative
Kulp attributes his success to the mentorship he has gained throughout his career. When looking for a mentor, he joined the Philadelphia LGBTQ+ Bar Association; he has since become the Chair of the organization and is the first Asian American to lead that Bar. Kulp recalls one of his mentors, Judge Dan Anders of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas and past President of the International LGBTQ+ Judges’ Association, telling him to “pay it forward ” any way possible by supporting those who were in similar positions to him early in his career. Kulp has prioritized establishing mentorship programs for members by connecting LGBTQ+ attorneys in Philadelphia through a formal mentorship program as well as connecting the community at monthly networking events. Even if he doesn’t consider a person a mentor, Kulp says that he tries to take away something from every interaction because “every conversation is an opportunity to learn and grow from experiences of another.” “I am incredibly grateful for all that I have gained from mentors, friends, and members of the Bar and commit to paying it forward as I continue to grow in my career.”
Being an Advocate
Kulp’s passions in the law are driven by his desire to be an advocate and defend civil rights and liberties for individuals. He remembers encouraging words from Judge Lori Dumas, the first Black woman to be elected to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, which guides him
in his daily work, to fight hard against all odds and to never lose sight of the work to be done. These words resonated with him as he followed his passion for advocacy. He understands that the defense of civil rights is a constant battle, and he is up for the challenge.
One of Kulp’s passions is working toward a more diverse and highly qualified bench. “As a lawyer, it is my duty to advocate for and protect the election or appointment of qualified judges,” Kulp states. He notes that the protection of civil rights can only happen through judges who see their importance and defend those rights from attacks. Through the Philadelphia LGBTQ+ Bar, Kulp works with others to bring awareness to the LGBTQ+ “panic” defense legal strategy. He is concerned by the recent killings of Black trans women, and fears that this legal strategy could prevent justice from being served. Kulp has challenged judges as to their views on this legal defense, and hosts town halls to amass public support to ban it legislatively. Kulp asserts that he will continue to use his knowledge and expertise to fight for the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups.
We thank Stephen Kulp for his LGBTQ+ Bar Board service, and his staunch commitment to LGBTQ+ rights in the legal community both locally and nationally!