Law firms shine in gay-friendly top 100

Topics: Equality and diversity

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  • Justine thompson

The legal profession is punching well above its weight in its success in opening up to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers, according to campaigning charity Stonewall’s list of top 100 employers published today.

Stonewall lists 12 law firms in its list of the best employers for LGBT compared with eight firms in 2013’s index, 10 in 2014 and 11 last year. The legal sector accounts for less than 2% of gross domestic product.


Kris Phelps, Stonewall’s senior account manager, said the charity was ‘delighted’ with the law firm numbers. ‘The legal sector is really leading by example in progressing LGBT diversity and inclusion.'

When the index was launched a decade ago, no law firms featured in the top 100, he said. 'It’s hugely exciting to see so many firms taking the steps to ensure that their employees can be themselves in the workplace.’

International firm Pinsent Masons leads the legal contingent, in fifth place. Highest new entrant Clifford Chance is in ninth place. Baker & McKenzie is in 11th place, followed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer at number 17.

Norton Rose Fulbright is in 22nd place, up 53 places on its ranking last year. Herbert Smith Freehills is in 25th place, followed by DWF in 56th place, Hogan Lovells in 57th place, CMS Cameron McKenna in 80th place and Eversheds in 86th place.

Other new entrants are Reed Smith, in 72nd place, and Dentons, in 97th place.

Simmons & Simmons, which Stonewall says has ‘consistently’ made the top 10, becomes an index ‘graduate’ and Stonewall ‘star performer’. Stonewall’s announcement states that the international firm will help role-model best practice and mentor a lower-performing organisation in the list.

Justine Thompson (pictured), Baker & McKenzie’s diversity and inclusion manager, is awarded an ‘ally of the year’ prize.

Top spot in Stonewall's list, which is compiled from submissions to the Workplace Equality Index, goes to MI5.

Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon said: '10 years ago there were no law firms on the Stonewall top 100 employers list - now there are 12. We are immensely proud of the profession for leading the way on LGBT diversity and inclusion.

‘Huge steps have been taken already and the progress is very encouraging, but we must remember that there is still a long way to go.

‘This year we launch the LGBT Lawyers Division, the Law Society's community for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lawyers. The community will promote LGBT diversity in the profession, supporting more law firms to be included on the next Stonewall list.’

Readers' comments (18)

  • Really

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  • And where are the names of the small/medium firms that are not based in the City? I am sure there are more than this study suggests.

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  • Of course, it all depends what sort of "self" a person has when it comes to being widely encouraged to be it................

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  • I wholeheartedly agree with anon 19 January 2016 11:17 am. These lists and awards pay absolutely no attention to smaller firms. No matter how excellent a small firm is as far as LGBT employees are concerned, such firms will never get a look in. We may as well not exist for the purposes of these awards.

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  • I worked in a small non-city firm of 17 with two gay partner firm and several LGBT staff- in fact as a non-LGBT employee I was in the minority. Quite a lot of my clients were LGBT not surprisingly but yet I don't see that firm on the list!!

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  • Totally irrelevant to practising law in the regions.

    During my training contract at a regional firm, amidst Friday drinks, the CEO made a joke about "poofs".

    Then there was the office gossip about the perceived sexuality of another trainee, based purely on her looks.

    Then there was the time I was cornered in my office and asked by an associate (now partner at the same firm) on how my family felt about my sexuality and my life choices (as if that was relevant at all to my position as a trainee solicitor)

    This was 2011 by the way, not 1981...

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  • I agree with the above. PR handed to the large city firms again whilst the firms outside of London's mile square appear not to either qualify as law firm or Stoenwall has assumed that people outside of London or have fewer than 2,000 employees are incapable of equality. My firm (small firm in Manchester - female managing partner who started 25 years ago as a trainee) is an immense place to work, and the partners and everyone at this firm is 100% behind encouraging everyone to do their best and achieve their best - irrespective of politics, sex/gender, sexuality, race, and irrespective of everything except whether they are or can make good lawyers. It is a pity that once again London is the only place that matters.

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  • Until everyone in a practice feels happy about competing a diversity monitoring form without feeling the need to avoid the "rather not say" option - there is a lot of work still to do.

    That presupposes that practices are actually monitoring diversity of workforces!

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  • Completely irrelevant. What on earth has this got to do with legal practice?


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  • PC capital of the world i think

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