International firm Pinsent Masons has been crowned the most inclusive law firm in the UK by LGBT campaign group Stonewall – but has lost its title of best overall LGBT employer.

Pinsent Masons came fourth on Stonewall’s top 100 employers list for 2020, behind Newcastle City Council, Sunderland housing association Gentoo group and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service. Last year the firm was ranked top out of 445 public, private and third sector organisations.

In total 14 law firms appear in Stonewall’s 2020 index, with Baker McKenzie and Travers Smith awarded joint 12th place. Magic circle firm Slaughter and May stormed up the leader board from 70th place in 2019 to 15th place in 2020, while Hogan Lovells, Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy and Taylor Wessing came 17th, 19th, 22nd and 51st respectively. The Ministry of Justice was placed fifth, while the Solicitors Regulation Authority just made the cut, in 93rd place.

Kate Fergusson, head of responsible business at Pinsent Masons, said: ‘We are delighted to celebrate our fifth year as a top five Stonewall employer and our 13th year on the index. The legal sector has come a long way since 2008, when we became the first and only law firm ranked in the index. Many law firms have transformed to become more inclusive and welcoming for our LGBT+ colleagues but we cannot become complacent.’

Ewan Brown, dispute resolution partner at Slaughter and May, said: ‘Our significant rise in the rankings reflects our continued efforts as a firm towards greater LGBT+ inclusiveness. This year, we made a conscious decision not to focus on LGBT+ in isolation, but instead to build on the firm’s existing work in this area by collaborating with the firm’s other employee networks around topics such as mental health and parenting.’

 Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, commented: 'It is important that everybody using legal services has access to a profession which is diverse and inclusive. We expect solicitors to meet high standards and behave in a way that encourages equality, diversity and inclusion – so it is important we hold ourselves to those same standards.'

Stonewall said that 503 employers applied to appear on the list this year – the largest number ever. However according to the group one in seven LGBT employees do not feel able to be themselves at work and almost one in five LGBT people have experienced discrimination when applying for jobs.