Law Soc, Stonewall launch first major gay careers survey

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  • The fear is beyond that of mistreatment. In a profession that has been elitist for the longest time, and where reputation counts as much as ability, the fear is often times of what people don't say - their pre/misconceptions and the way they view their colleagues. Coming out in the workplace becomes a battle against these attitudes, and it is a difficult battle because the opinion is often times reserved. It's no surprising that many gay lawyers opt for the easy way out.
    On the more open front, I have seen Sherman & Sterling senior lawyers demonstrate shocking intolerance by making disgusting jokes about their fellow gay associates. S&S I am sure are not alone.
    i work for CC and the membership/contribution from the lawyer front is laughable. In a place where there are more than a thousand trainee/associates/partners you would expect a lot more boldness.

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  • I've met people who make me cringe because they pursue a diversity agenda that isn't what law firms are about- they are about delivering excellence and quality. But by giving staff the confidence to be who they are they are more likely to deliver that excellence and quality.

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  • To Anonymous: if Shearmans senior lawyers are making homophobic jokes, then confront them. A quiet word on the side should do it especially after their problems with that lap-dancing story!

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  • With regard to your introduction on the ewire today, whilst very sympathetic to the plight and prejudice faced by LGB lawyers, I'd also add that straight men can also find strip clubs offensive, uncomfortable and unpleasant environments. Small point, I know, but your ewire opener seems to imply that it's only LGB people who might find them pretty dire places.

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  • Being any of LBGT has no bearing on anyone's humanity or anyone's ability to live the same life everyone else lives. The same goes for persons of a different colour, creed or natural origin. I find it horribly patronising to have an appointee made up to deal with LBGT as if they were a different species of human being. Being gay doesn't mean that a man is unmanly (the Greeks, Romans and many Samurai were openly gay and yet regarded as paragons of manly and martial valour) not that a woman is unfeminine. Gay men are not all Danny La Rue's no more than all women are bearded hermaphrodites - this means that just as completely straight men and women (if there really are such things) can gather consensually to watch a stripper so can LBGT. To assume LBGT are inevitably offended is to ringfence them as prudes and kill joys. On the work front being LBGT is not a work issue it is a home life issue - I'm no more interested in what a colleague does in his own time than I'm interested in what my mum and dad get up to when we're out. The best person for the job is the one who does the job the best! End of!!!!

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  • As someone who made the "mistake" of telling my secretary I was gay 10 years ago (resulting in virtually the whole Firm knowing by the end of the day!) I have mixed feelings about some of these comments. I still made partner a few years after outing myself which suggests I was judged, by my Firm at least, on ability not sexuality. Senior partners in my Firm have also met my long-term partner and there have been few issues, although I do feel that some of them were a little uncomfortable.
    However, I still have had a few problems as some clients (particularly older, senior board members or bankers) are not as open-minded and knowing what to say on social occasions when the inevitable questions about marriage and children come up can be difficult. I won't lie about my life and so can end up seeming evasive or with little to say. One time, a director of a major client made some very homophobic remarks that I, perhaps wrongly, let go rather than risk damaging the relationship. I am sure (or at least hope) he wouldn't have made racist remarks so openly and feel sure that, if he had, others would have picked him up about it.
    In short, I think being gay can make developing client relationships, and hence bringing in business, more difficult and this can obviously affect career progression. But, as the next generation take over the more senior positions within our clients, I hope things will change.

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  • One of my friends, a 4 PQE lawyer at a top 20 law firm, won't have a 'trendy' haircut for risk of a partner getting a sniff of the fact he likes shaking his gay booty in the depths of Soho every weekend. Although this has lead to several bad hair cuts its also lead to him feeling detached from the old boys inner circle he needs to be part of in order to make it to the top. There is no doubt in his mind, if he had a couple of kids and a 3 bed semi in Fulham he would reach partnership quicker. There is little to do to remedy this but time, as the old fashioned and narrow minded thinking partners of a previous generation fall off the perch and retire, a new generation of lawyers who have been raised in an all together more liberal society will start to influence even the most conservative of firms. Whilst as City Lawyer has found some clients displaying levels of homophobia, on the flip side as an openly gay in-house lawyer working for a US media house, I feel a more openly diverse law firms might be very good for new business.

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  • It is refreshing to know that law firms are focusing on development and training of LGBT employees. There is even a new law firm named Gaylawyers, and I have read that a Univesity in London is running Pink Law seminars to assist the gay community. There is more to be done, but things have substabtially improved in the last ten years

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