We asked, they told: 10 key GLBT findings from the Law Firm

by Vault Law Editors | October 20, 2010

  • My Vault

As the legal and political battles continue over the presumed end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, we bring you the latest developments on another front.

Vault and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) first began soliciting GLBT data as part of our Law Firm Diversity Survey six years ago. Over that time, we have seen increasing transparency as law firms make greater effort to address issues of gender identity and sexual orientation. Of the 305 law firms that have taken part in the Law Firm Diversity Survey over the last three years, approximately 81% have provided statistics for openly/self-identified gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT) attorneys. (Most of the remaining firms report that they do not track numbers for openly GLBT individuals.)

This, of course, does not necessarily mean that all gay lawyers at these firms have identified themselves as such to their firms. Indeed, in this context it’s worth noting the difference between the number of GLBT associates that firms have reported and the number of individual GLBT associates that have self-reported. According to the 263 law firms that took part in our most recent Law Firm Diversity Survey, GLBT attorneys represent 2% of law firm associates. Meanwhile, in response to our Law Firm Associate Survey, which polled thousands of individual associates at 165 law firms, 4% of associates self-identified as GLBT.

Nevertheless, evidence suggests that the profession is gradually becoming more inclusive and sensitive to GLBT issues. For example, it has now become standard practice for large law firms to offer equal benefits for same-sex partners. And in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2011 Corporate Equality Index, a survey assessing workplaces on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, 97 law firms received scores of 100 percent, making the legal sector the top industry for GLBT issues.

Here are some other GLBT-related findings from the most recent Vault/MCCA Law Firm Diversity Survey.


    Law firm transparency is growing
  1. In 2009, 76.61% of surveyed law firms reported statistics for GLBT attorneys.
  2. In 2010, that percentage climbed to 81.37%.

    But mind the gap
  3. According to law firms surveyed in 2010, 2.11% of associates are openly/self-identified GLBT.
  4. According to the 2010 Law Firm Associate Survey, 3.95% of associates self-identified as GLBT.

    Statistics suggest upward trend in hiring of—or self-identification among—GLBT lawyers
  5. Openly GLBT lawyers represented 1.72% of attorneys employed at surveyed law firms as of December 31, 2009 (compared to 1.65% in 2008 and 1.58% in 2007).
  6. 2.07% of 2L summer associates in 2009 were openly GLBT.
  7. 1.87% of all new attorney hires in 2009 were openly GLBT.
  8. 1.44% of all attorneys who left their firms in 2009 were openly GLBT.

    Most law firms provide domestic partner benefits
  9. 83.27% of 263 law firms surveyed in 2010 either already or will soon offer the same benefits to same-sex domestic partners that are available to married individuals.
  10. 11.79% report that this is not a current priority (the majority of these firms are relatively small, with fewer than 50 attorneys).

Law Firm Domestic Partner Benefits

Filed Under: Law

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