Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
While it appears that many midsized law practices have proportionately more openly gay and lesbian attorneys among their ranks than some of the nation’s megafirms, there may be a bigger closet in the bigger law firms. Among the 20 law firms with the highest percentage of openly gay and lesbian attorneys this year, most had fewer than 300 attorneys, and the average percentage of such lawyers was 3.2%. At the same time, only five of the country’s 20 largest firms reported their numbers of openly gay and lesbian attorneys, and within those firms, 1.8% of their attorneys in 2005 were openly gay or lesbian. The figures were part of The National Law Journal‘s 2005 survey of the nation’s 250 largest law firms. Theories vary as to the reasons for the differentials among midsize and larger firms, but it appears that many of the smaller firms are more upfront about the numbers of gays and lesbians in their work forces. One reason for the difference may be that the smaller the firm, the more difficult it is for attorneys to keep their sexual preferences a secret if they so choose, said Laura Maechtlen, an associate at Seyfarth Shaw and a board member of the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association. In addition, Maechtlen said that with cut-throat competition at the country’s largest law firms, gay and lesbian attorneys may be more inclined not to reveal their sexual preferences, although, she added, she feels welcomed and appreciated at her Chicago-based firm. “You have in that [large firm] environment an incentive to not be ‘out’ at work,” she said. “You want to be judged on your legal abilities as opposed to what people might term a ‘minority attorney.’ “ Large firms static Many midsized law firms had more openly gay and lesbian attorneys on their work force this year compared with 2004, while the populations of those attorneys in the biggest firms remained static. Last year, the percentage of gay and lesbian attorneys among the 20 firms reporting the highest percentage of those attorneys was 2.9%, compared with this year’s percentage of 3.2%.
Firms with the most openly gay and lesbian lawyers.
Firm Total attorneys Percentage gay/lesbian
Irell & Manella 215 8.37%
Patterson Belknap 189 5.82%
Foley Hoag 244 4.51%
Goulston & Storrs 180 3.89%
Heller Ehrmann 705 3.69%
Source: NLJ 250

However, the percentage of those attorneys among the biggest firms by size reporting their numbers last year was 1.8%, the same as this year. The average size of the 20 firms with the highest percentage of openly gay and lesbian attorneys was 396 lawyers. Of those attorneys, about 13 on average were openly gay or lesbian. By contrast, of the five law firms among the nation’s largest 20 firms that provided statistics for their gay and lesbian attorneys this year and last, the average size was 1,460 attorneys. And of those attorneys, an average of less than one openly gay or lesbian attorney worked at those firms. The firms among the country’s 20 largest by size that reported the numbers of gay and lesbian attorneys this year and in 2004 were Latham & Watkins; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom of New York; Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw of Chicago; Holland & Knight; and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. Recruiting gay and lesbian attorneys simply makes good business sense, said Heller Ehrman Chairman Matthew Larrabee. Of the firm’s 705 attorneys, some 26, or 3.7%, are openly gay or lesbian. He said that for about a decade the firm has considered the recruitment of gay and lesbian lawyers part of its overall diversity effort. “We’ve been able to create a certain positive momentum,” he said. Heller Ehrman is among the five firms with the highest percentage of openly gay and lesbian attorneys. The other firms are Los Angeles’ Irell & Manella, 8.4%; New York’s Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, 5.8%; and Boston firms Foley Hoag, 4.5%, and Goulston & Storrs, 3.9%. Despite the lower percentages of openly gay and lesbian attorneys at big law firms, many are beginning to recruit gay and lesbian law students aggressively, said Nadine Gartner, a third-year law student at the University of Michigan Law School. “They see that in order to get the best attorneys, they need to broaden their pool,” she said. Even so, Gartner plans to practice public interest law on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community after clerking for U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Emily C. Hewitt next year. “It’s what I find worthwhile,” she said.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.