LGBTQ+ Figures in the Legal Sector

 

In honour of welcoming in Pride Month this June, the Thrive Tribe wanted to raise awareness for the LGBTQ+ Community, in a creative but educational way. We want to play our part in creating workplaces which are healthy, inclusive and free from barriers. That is why we campaign for equality and we are sharing our knowledge with you. Earlier in the year, for LGBTQ+ History Month, we chose famous male and female figures in LGBTQ+ history that we did not know anything about and researched them to uncover the fascinating bold and brave lives they led. To have a read of our blog we published on this, please follow the link here.

This year, the Thrive Tribe has had the idea of shining a light on individuals who are, at present, paving the way for those in the LGBTQ+ Community. With this in mind, we wanted to focus on those who may be underrepresented, or rather, unrepresented.  Given we are a law firm, we have decided to cover those in the legal sector, who are fighting for change and making a difference in our own very traditional profession. We want to sew equality into the fabric and culture of all businesses and sharing stories like this will help change attitudes that anyone can be a lawyer.

Within the legal sector in the United Kingdom, statistics over the years have illustrated that there has been in a shift in views and opinions surrounding LGBTQ+ lawyers so this has naturally been subject to rapid change and development within law firms across the UK.

In 2014, Stonewall, the LGBTQ+ equality charity, launched a list of the 20 most inclusive law firms for LGBTQ+ staff in the UK, in which Baker & McKenzie LLP were ranked on top. Stonewall have since continued on this practice each year and the ranking for the top 100 most inclusive employers for LGBTQ+ staff in the UK, ranking employers from across the public, private and third sectors regarding how inclusive their workplaces are. Within 2020’s ranking, Pinsent Masons scored 4th place on the list and earnt the title of 2020’s most inclusive LGBTQ+ law firm and Legal organisations were deemed as the second most inclusive sector, with a total of fifteen law firms in the rankings. To see the full list of Stonewall’s top 100 employers for 2020, follow the link here. This illustrates a shift in the minds of many law firms towards a more inclusive and diverse workforce. However there is still a long way to go, as with many other protected characteristics.

Interlaw recently undertook some crucial research and uncovered that “70% of LGBTQ+ lawyers believe there is prejudice within the selection process for judicial office”. This is because up until 1991, any unmarried men or women (inclusive of gay and lesbian lawyers) were excluded from becoming a judge and thus unfortunately many individuals were never granted this opportunity.

In undertaking further research, the Thrive Tribe has uncovered that the Judicial Appointments Committee (JAC) is striving to enforce change in light of this statement and are actively remedying this however they can. They have demonstrated this by enlisting three prominent openly gay judges to speak at their events, promoting the gay legal community like never before.

These Judges are, Court of Appeal Judge Sir Terence Etherton, High Court and International Criminal Court Judge Sir Adrian Fulford and Circuit Court Judge Jeremy Richardson.

The three Judges took part in a report by JUSTICE in 2019, titled Increasing Judicial Diversity. Within this report, the Judges noted they often had to deal with micro-aggressions regarding sexuality in the workplace but reassuringly clarified that they did not feel that their sexual orientation prevented promotion opportunities. Further to this, the Judges are actively working with the JAC to highlight the importance of monitoring sexual orientation of candidates for judicial appointment roles in order to ensure the judiciary is a welcoming place for LGBTQ+ lawyers, allowing them to develop successful careers without hindrance and discrimination. By adopting this stance, the three Judges are encouraging the legal LGBTQ+ Community to strive and play their full professional and social roles, however they can, as it is vital that the judiciary within the UK is seen to reflect a fair and functioning society.

In respect of the above, we wanted to highlight the JAC, Sir Terence Etherton, Sir Adrian Fulford and Mr Jeremy Richardson’s contributions, as they may be deemed as important role models and remarkable catalysts for change as they are paving the way forward for all the LGBTQ+ individuals within the legal sector. For this and all their efforts, we are truly grateful!

Make sure you check back next Friday to see more influential figures who have paved the way for the LGBTQ+ community within the legal sector.

Written by the Thrive Tribe

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