On Sunday, June 25th, Pride Month celebrations will culminate with parades across the country, from New York to San Francisco.
What began nearly 48 years ago as a way to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan has now blossomed into a nationwide movement that has lawyers and staffers from many large law firms marching alongside those pushing for equality.
For the first time in its history, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton will march in San Francisco’s pride parade. A contingent of close to 152 lawyers, staff, their families and friends will charter a motorized cable car, festooned with a Sheppard Mullin logo designed by the firm’s planning committee and headed by longtime legal and information technology staffer Edward Graziani.
Sheppard Mullin has long served as national outside general counsel to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Michelle Kahn, an intellectual property partner at Sheppard Mullin, serves as pro bono general counsel to San Francisco Pride, the nonprofit that organizes the yearly event and its accompanying festivities.
Following a series of wins for SF Pride—Kahn declined to elaborate on the victories—enthusiasm to participate in the parade swelled across Sheppard Mullin, she said. Kahn has worked on a number of copyright, licensing and trademark enforcement matters for the organization.
“The firm is strongly committed to the LGBTQ [community] and is trying to raise its activity level and profile in that regard,” Kahn said. “It means a lot to clients and it’s just the way the world is moving and the firm is very supportive of it.”
Also marching in the San Francisco Pride parade is Fenwick & West, which has been a staple at the event for the last three years. In 2016, the firm had more than 110 people march among its ranks.
“Fenwick is delighted to be marching in the Pride parade again this year—and we’re proud year round,” said Fenwick IP partner Daniel Brownstone in a statement. “We have active LGBT affinity and ally groups, and we are fortunate to have community partners and pro bono clients working hard to help improve the lives of the LGBT community.”
Morrison & Foerster will also have a contingent marching in San Francisco’s pride parade sports hats (pictured right) emblazoned with “MoFo Proud.” The firm, whose former chairman Keith Wetmore was the first openly gay leader of an Am Law 100 firm, will also host its first annual Pride breakfast the day of the parade in its San Francisco office in partnership with the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF).
In Texas, Hogan Lovells paralegal Sallie Wyatt-Woodell, who joined the firm in December, will be grand marshal of the Houston Pride Parade. Last month, Hogan Lovells launched a global LGBT and allies network called Pride+ that is aimed at enhancing support for LGBT individuals in its offices around the world.
The New York City Pride Parade will see Paul Feinman, the first openly gay judge confirmed this week to the state’s highest court, march alongside Gov. Andrew Cuomo and members of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York (LeGaL).
“We’ve just waited a long time to have a seat at the table at that court,” said Matthew Skinner, a former litigation associate at Proskauer Rose who now serves as executive director for LeGal. Feinman had previously been president of LeGal, as well as the International Association of LGBT Judges.
“It’s just such a huge moment for the LGBT legal community that we really wanted to celebrate this milestone at the march in front of the thousands of people that will be watching it,” Skinner said.
While Skinner cited Feinman’s recent appointment as evidence of the great strides the legal industry has made in embracing the LGBT community, he said there is still some ways to go until members of the community feel completely included and welcomed in the profession.
“I think marching in Pride is one of the ways that we work to fight for our inclusion in the profession and also show people our pride and joy of being both a member of the LGBT community and a member of the legal profession,” Skinner said.
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