How many LGBTQ lawyers practice law in Texas?
It’s a question without an answer: The State Bar of Texas annually collects demographic data about Texas lawyers, but it doesn’t ask about their status as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.
Regardless, coalitions of minority bar associations in Houston, Dallas and Austin have taken it upon themselves to ask law firms to report how many openly LGBT attorneys they employ. The coalition in Austin has been most consistent about reporting the numbers every year and released its most recent report in early August.
The Austin minority bars collected data for 2012 and 2013 but did not use the LGBT numbers to calculate law firms’ scores, and didn’t break out which firms employed LGBT attorneys. In 2012, six out of 22 responding firms employed LGBT lawyers, and the following year, five out of 21 firms did.
LGBT numbers were first broken out and factored into firms’ scores in the 2014 diversity report card. Six out of 23 firms said they had a total of 23 openly LGBT lawyers. Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody employed seven LGBT lawyers, Husch Blackwell had six, Gardere Wynne Sewell had four, Baker Botts had three, Norton Rose Fulbright had two and Andrews Kurth had one.
According to the 2015 report card, eight out of 24 firms had a total of 22 LGBT lawyers. Graves Dougherty, Baker Botts and Norton Rose Fulbright each employed four LGBT lawyers; Husch Blackwell had three; Gardere, Jackson Walker and The Fowler Law Firm each employed two LGBT attorneys; and Scott Douglass & McConnico had one.
On this year’s report, covering 2016 numbers, 11 of the 25 responding firms said they had a total of 20 LGBT lawyers. Graves Dougherty had four LGBT lawyers; there were three each at Husch Blackwell and Baker Botts; Norton Rose Fulbright and Richards, Rodriguez & Skeith had two each; and there was a single LGBT lawyer at The Fowler Law Firm, Gardere, Jackson Walker, Scott Douglass, McGinnis Lochridge & Kilgore and Locke Lord.
In statements about each year’s diversity report card, representatives of the Austin LGBT Bar Association said that the low number of LGBT lawyers on the report cards is inconsistent with the true number of LGBT lawyers in the Austin area. It’s difficult using the Austin data on the report card since the State Bar of Texas doesn’t ask about LGBT data, so there’s no countywide or statewide metric for comparison purposes.