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NYCLA APPROVES REPORT SURVEYING NEW YORK’S TOP 24 LAW FIRMS’ PROGRESS
ON ADDRESSING LGBT ISSUES
JANUARY 11, 2005 – NEW YORK, NY – The New York County Lawyers’ Association’s (NYCLA) Board of Directors has approved a report, ‘Making Progress: How New York’s Top 24 Law Firms Address Issues of Concern to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community.’ The report, based on results of a survey conducted by NYCLA’s LGBT Issues Committee, found that New York’s largest law firms are making substantial progress on issues of critical importance to the LGBT community, which includes recruitment and health benefits (to same-sex domestic partners), policies, pro bono representation of LGBT clients, and financial support and participation in LGBT organizations, community events and law conferences. The Report also contains a series of recommendations to ensure that firms actively recruit LGBT attorneys, in addition to promoting and elevating them to leadership positions.
Norman L. Reimer, NYCLA President, explains, ‘All of us in the profession can take heart that, in this arena, New York’s large firms are leading society to a better place – a place of tolerance, inclusiveness and equal opportunity.’
The survey, conducted in the summer of 2003, represents the first time that New York law firms have been asked to respond publicly to questions about their practices and policies on LGBT issues. All 24 firms surveyed have self- identified LGBT attorneys and most have self-identified LGBT partners; in addition, all of the firms take steps to ensure that LGBT candidates for employment have the opportunity to meet with self-identified LGBT attorneys employed at the firm.
Thomas Hickey, former Chair of the LGBT Issues Committee and chief author of the Report, says, ‘Based on the overwhelmingly positive responses to the Committee’s survey, there is no doubt that New York’s top law firms have made great strides in ensuring that LGBT attorneys are welcomed, valued and treated equally. Since New York’s largest law firms are often viewed as the leaders of this country’s legal community, we at NYCLA hope that all law firms and legal organizations will follow the lead of these firms and take the same steps they have taken on LGBT issues.’
According to the Report’s conclusion and recommendations, ‘It is undeniable that New York’s top law firms have embraced the LGBT community when they define diversity and have made great strides in ensuring that LGBT attorneys are welcome, valued and treated equally….Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement.’ Among the Report’s recommendations are:
* To send a clear message that self-identified LGBT lawyers are welcome at and squarely in the firm, firms should take concrete steps to increase the total number of self-identified LBGT attorneys employed.;
* To show that qualified LGBT attorneys can succeed professionally, firms should ensure that self-identified LBGT attorneys are retained, promoted and elevated to partnership and other leadership positions within the firms;
* To provide opportunities for LGBT attorneys to discuss issues unique to them, and to encourage the development of mentoring relationships with partners and senior lawyers, firms should encourage the formation of LGBT affinity groups, and should regularly sponsor luncheons or social events for LGBT attorneys.
The New York County Lawyers’ Association (www.nycla.org) was founded in 1908 as the first major bar association in the country that admitted members without regard to race, ethnicity, religion or gender. Since its inception, NYCLA has pioneered some of the most far-reaching and tangible reforms in American jurisprudence and has continuously played an active role in legal developments and public policy.
To read the complete report, log on to www.nycla.org and click on Publications and on NYCLA Reports.
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