Where Are The Gay Attorneys? The 25 Firms With The Most GLBT Lawyers

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Diversity is important to law firms — they have diversity advisors and affinity groups for every race, religion and sexual orientation.

Last year 87 law firms achieved high to perfect scores in the Human Rights Campaigns’ rating of U.S. work places — an achievement touted on the firms’ Web sites.

But much of that starts as words on paper, while firms often have difficulty actually hiring and retaining associates who fall under the umbrella of “diversity.” And high profile lawsuits by associates, when they crop up, usually involve discrimination or some sort.

With an openly gay woman being elevated to a name partner at an AmLaw 100 firm last week, and the LeGal (Lesbian & Gay Law Association’s) Foundation 2010 Annual Dinner coming up this week, we thought it would be a good time to take a simple look at the numbers — how many gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered (LGBT) attorneys are at the largest and most prominent firms?

We looked at the NALP forms for the Top 25 AmLaw 100 firms, as well as handful of other firms and litigation boutiques (and received updated numbers from a few firms). The forms, of course, only reflect openly GLBT attorneys and only those who choose to report themselves as such. In addition, some firms choose not report GLBT numbers at all. So it’s not a perfect science, but it’s what we’ve got.

Of course, comparing firms’ numbers to the general population is not so simple either — projections of what percentage of Americans are GLBT go from “2-3% of men, and 2% of women” by The Family Research Report and 3-8% of both sexes by The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.  Either way, most firms are well below the 2% point.  Who isn’t?

Click here to see which 25 firms have the greatest % of GLBT attorneys >

#1 Cleary Gottlieb (7.48%)

Total Attorneys: 588*

LGBT Attorneys: 44

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 7.48

LGBT NY Attys/Total NY Attys: 29/463

Cleary has a reputation for being gay-friendly, so it's not surprising it tops the list. The firm has 39-member LGBT Affinity Group that participates in numerous internal and external events throughout the year, a spokesperson said. Some of these include the group's summer dinner and welcome dinner for new LGBT associates. They recently hosted G-Law-Rious, 'a series of networking receptions for New York City's LGBT legal community' that moves from firm to firm.

*The numbers were provided by Cleary, and are more current than their most recent NALP form.

#2 Debevoise & Plimpton (5.63%)

Total Attorneys: 533

LGBT Attorneys: 30

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 5.63

LGBT NY Attys/Total NY Attys: N/A (Firm-wide NALP form only)

Debevoise is one of 87 prominent firms to receive a perfect 100% in the Human Rights Campaign's 'Corporate Equality Index,' which looks at corporate policies and employee benefits, as well as LGBT employee groups.

#3 Morrison Foerster (5.5%)

Total Attorneys: 909

LGBT Attorneys: 50

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 5.5

LGBT NY Attys/Total NY Attys: 13/197

In 2008, MoFo hired Nadia Ramadan Jones as its first Professional Development and Diversity Manager. Her responsibilities, according to the firm Web site, include to 'design and implement professional development and mentoring programs for the firm's minority lawyers, including attorneys of colour, women, disabled, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) attorneys.'

#4 Sullivan & Cromwell (4.14%)

Total Attorneys: 773

LGBT Attorneys: 32

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 4.14

LGBT NY Attys/Total NY Attys: N/A (Firm-wide NALP form only)

Though S&C's reputation regarding gay attorneys took a hit with the eventually-settled Aaron Charney lawsuit, the firm's well-established 'LGBT Network' promotes recruitment of LGBT personnel within the firm, the firm's Web site says, as well as organizes pro bono work representing various parties within the LGBT community.

#5 Ropes & grey (4%)

Total Attorneys: 1025

LGBT Attorneys: 41

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 4

LGBT NY Attys/Total NY Attys: 301/12

In June, Ropes & grey will receive a Safe Haven Pro Bono Award from Immigration Equality, a spokesperson said. The award is related to the firm's representation of various LGBT individuals who have faced persecution in their home country and are seeking asylum.

For attorneys, the firm has an active GLBT forum made up of openly GLBT attorneys who meet regularly to keep each other up to date on recruiting activity, pro bono work and benefits questions. It's a very active 'employee resource network,' associate Stuart Yothers said.

#6 Dewey & LeBoeuf (3.87%)

Total Attorneys: 904

LGBT Attorneys: 35

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 3.87

LGBT NY Attys/Total NY Attys: 24/621

Dewey's LGBT Resource Network 'foster(s) informal mentor/peer relationship,' its Web site says, as well as promotes recruitment of LGBT attorneys. The firm's LGBT page goes beyond that of most firms by including quotes from LGBT partners describing both their firm experience and their LGBT-related pro bono work.

#7 Covington & Burling (3.4%)

Total Attorneys: 705

LGBT Attorneys: 24

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 3.4

LGBT NY Attys/Total NY Attys: 2/128

LGBT lawyers chair or co-chair Covington's Financial Institutions, Energy and Patent groups and its Business, Diversity and Legal Personnel Committees, a spokesperson said. In addition, the firm is a national sponsor of Lamda Legal.

On the pro bono front, Covington partners Jean Veta and Tom Williamson helped defend the law that, as of this month, allows same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses in Washington, D.C.

#8 Latham & Watkins (3.32%)

Total Attorneys: 1384

LGBT Attorneys: 46

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 3.32

LGBT NY Attys/Total NY Attys: 18/412

Among many firms on this list, Latham also received a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index.

#9 Milbank (3.23%)

Total Attorneys: 526

LGBT Attorneys: 17

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 3.23

LGBT NY Attys/Total NY Attys: 14/395

At Milbank, LGBT students are considered for its Diversity Scholars Program, 'which awards salaried summer associate positions in one of the Firm's domestic offices and a $50,000 scholarship,' to one student per year, its 2010 diversity fact sheet noted.

The firm's GLBT affinity group is called [email protected]

#10 Weil Gotschal (3.14%)

Total Attorneys: 1051

LGBT Attorneys: 33

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 3.14

LGBT NY Attys/Total NY Attys: 22/697

Weil's GLBT group, WEGALA, hosts various events throughout the year, including a cocktail party to welcome summer associates, organizes the firm's participation in New York's AIDS walk and hosts an annual retreat for members.

#11 Quinn Emanuel (3.13%)

Total Attorneys: 480

LGBT Attorneys: 15

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 3.13

LGBT NY Attys/Total NY Attys: N/A (Firm-wide NALP form only)

As Above The Law noted last week, Kathleen Sullivan became the first woman, and the first openly gay woman, to become a name partner of an AmLaw 100 firm. (The 'sullivan' in the logo was included as of Friday.) LGBT students are also eligible for Quinn's diversity scholarship program for summer associates.

#13 Bingham McCutchen (2.99%)

Total Attorneys: 1005

LGBT Attorneys: 30

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 2.99

LGBT NY Attys/Total NY Attys: 5/125

In 2008, Bingham created the position of 'Manager of Diversity and Inclusion' and currently boasts three straight years of a perfect score on the HRC's Corporate Equality Index. Associate bios note pro bono work in LGBT issues and participation on the New York Lawyer's Association's LGBT Issues Committee.

Wachtell (2.97%)

Total Attorneys: 236

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 7

Percentage GLBT Attorneys: 2.97

Wachtell is another firm that scored 100 on the HRC's Corporate Equality Index. But its commitment to diversity (even among those 3,000 hours years) is not new -- in 2007 Wachtell hosted a LeGaL -- Lesbian & Gay Law Association of Great New York -- networking event in its midtown offices.

#14 Cravath (2.94%)

Total Attorneys: 544

LGBT Attorneys: 16

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 2.94

LGBT NY Attys/Total NY Attys: N/A (Firm-wide NALP form only)

Cravath has an LGBT affinity group and the firm sponsors (and its attorneys attend) various LGBT events, including, 'the ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights Project, Lambda Legal and LeGaL, and participates in the National LGBT Bar Association Career Fair and LeGaL LGBT Career Fair,' a firm spokesperson says. This year marks Cravath's second consecutive 100 on the HRC's Corporate Equality Index.

#15 Simpson Thatcher (2.76%)

Total Attorneys: 907

LGBT Attorneys: 25

Percentage LGBT Attorneys: 2.76

LGBT NY Attys/Total NY Attys: 19/680

Simpson has a LGBT affinity group and, last year, Simpson hosted Ken Choe, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU, for a talk on 'Marriage for Same-Sex Couples: The Landscape after Proposition 8, Iowa, Vermont and Maine,' the firm's Web site notes.

Simpson attorneys serve on the New York City Bar Association's Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights.

Rounding out the top 25...

Firm % LGBT

  1. Cleary 7.48
  2. Debevoise 5.63
  3. Morrison Foerster 5.5
  4. Sullivan & Cromwell 4.14
  5. Ropes & grey 4
  6. Dewey 3.87
  7. Covington 3.4
  8. Latham 3.32
  9. Milbank 3.23
  10. Weil Gotschal 3.14
  11. Quinn Emanuel 3.13
  12. Bingham 2.99
  13. Wachtell 2.97
  14. Cravath 2.94
  15. Simpson Thacher 2.76
  16. Skadden 2.73
  17. Sidley 2.63
  18. O'Melveny 2.57
  19. Willkie 2.56
  20. Cadwalader 2.55
  21. Wilmer Hale 2.44
  22. Shearman & Sterling 2.35
  23. Morgan Lewis 1.97
  24. Kirkland & Ellis 1.94
  25. Hogan & Harston 1.85

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