CHICAGO — Equality Illinois, the state's oldest and largest organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality, announced the results of its annual Law Firm Survey, recognizing 23 local and international firms for their treatment of LGBT employees.
The results were announced at the 7th annual Lawyers for Diversity Barbecue, underwritten by dozens of Chicago's largest law firms and businesses, taking place on Thursday, July 28, at Sidetrack (3349 N. Halsted Street, Chicago).
"The broad range of firms on this list — from local to global firms, from small firms to the world's largest — just underscores the fact that equal treatment of LGBT employees is both the fair thing to do and is also good business," Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, said. "There is no better way to recruit and retain top talent and to engage new clients than by respecting the diversity of all employees."
Equality Illinois also plans to release a Best Practices Manual in September, highlighting the workplace practices of the leading firms, with the goal of helping other firms adapt their policies to be more LGBT-inclusive.
The key speaker at the event this year is Laura M. Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs and the Chair of Chicago Cubs Charities. Past speakers have included Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Director of the Department of Insurance Michael McRaith, and Illinois Appellate Court Justice Sebastian Patti.
The leading law firms are:
Chapman and Cutler LLP
Clark Hill PLC
Greenberg and Traurig
Jenner & Block
Katten Muchin Rosenman
Kirkland & Ellis
McDermott Will & Emery
Neal Gerber Eisenberg
Quarles & Brady
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
Winston & Strawn
Equality Illinois recognized the following 5 firms for their strengthened commitment to LGBT equality: Baker & McKenzie, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, McGuireWoods, ReedSmith, Yearwood & Associates.
Recognized law firms welcomed the honor and publicized it with their employees, clients, and media.
"McDermott has a long-standing commitment to LGBT equality and inclusion within our firm and the broader legal and LGBT communities," Lisa A. Linsky, Partner, Trial Development, said. "We have implemented best practices such as comprehensive domestic partner benefits, a tax gross-up and gender transition guidelines to create a culture supportive of our LGBT lawyers and staff. The Firm's policies and practices are consistent with our overall commitment to workplace equality and inclusion. We appreciate Equality Illinois' recognition of our Firm's diversity accomplishments."
"Quarles & Brady understands the importance of incorporating diversity in the workplace because it is beneficial to our clients and the firm," Janine Landow-Esser, Chair of the firm's Diversity Committee, said. "We continually develop and refine our policies to address the needs of our diverse employees -- racial minorities, women, LGBT or physically challenged. It is who we are as a firm."
"We are honored to be recognized by Equality Illinois as one of the top LGBT-friendly law firms in Illinois," Susan C. Levy, Jenner & Block's Managing Partner, said. "This recognition reflects the Firm's longstanding dedication to maintaining an inclusive workplace environment and furthering LGBT civil rights."
"Since day one, Kirkland has embraced and valued my perspective as an openly gay attorney and shown unwavering support for our LGBT community," Jordan Heinz, Chicago Litigation Associate and Member of the Firmwide Diversity Committee and LGBT Subcommittee, said. "The Firm is proud to support the great work of Equality Illinois in its mission of achieving equality for the LGBT community in Illinois and beyond."
"As a growing firm with international reach and global clients, Clark Hill PLC understands the importance of a diverse and inclusive culture," Ray Koenig, Member, Litigation Practice, said. "Clark Hill PLC believes in promoting diversity and inclusion in our firm, fostering a collegial and respectful working environment in which each person is encouraged and supported to reach his or her highest potential. Clark Hill PLC will continue to aggressively pursue workplace equality for all, including members of the LBGT community."
Survey results and statistics are available on request.