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.’