LGBT Diversity

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To provide the best possible service to our clients, Kirkland strives to hire, train and retain the most talented attorneys. Part of this commitment includes fostering an environment in which all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) attorneys have the greatest opportunities to thrive.

In 2007, Kirkland formed a LGBT Subcommittee of the Firmwide Diversity and Inclusion Committee specifically to address the needs and concerns of LGBT attorneys and staff. Corporate partner Tana Ryan and intellectual property partner Edward Sadtler are the chairs of the LGBT Subcommittee.


Kirkland has received many accolades for its diversity efforts.

In 2016, for the ninth year in a row, Kirkland received a score of 100 percent on the HRC Corporate Equality Index (CEI) survey, earning recognition as one of the "Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality."

In 2015, for the sixth year in a row, Equality Illinois recognized Kirkland as one of the top Illinois law firms for LGBT equality.

In 2014, The American Lawyer named Kirkland to the A-List, a ranking of the country's 20 elite law firms via a measure of their success in four core areas: financial performance, pro bono, diversity, and associate satisfaction.

In 2009, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for LGBT Americans, honored Kirkland with its first-ever "Award for Workplace Equality Innovation" for the Firm's ALLSA initiative.

Building Community

Kirkland's LGBT affinity group meets regularly, at the local and Firmwide levels, for social events, workshops, panels and other events aimed at the interests of LGBT attorneys. LGBT attorneys gather each year for a Firmwide dinner, affinity group workshop and client networking event in connection with the National LGBT Bar Association's Lavender Law Conference & Career Fair. The LGBT Subcommittee of the Firmwide Diversity and Inclusion Committee meets regularly to develop and assess policies and initiatives to meet the needs of the Firm's LGBT attorneys.

Developing Leaders

Demonstrating Kirkland's leadership in the LGBT legal community, the National LGBT Bar Association has named eight Firm attorneys to its Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 list since 2010, including litigation partner David Flugman in 2015. Numerous Kirkland attorneys also sit on boards and other leadership councils of leading LGBT advocacy groups, including Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Innovative Outreach

As part of Kirkland's award-winning ALLSA initiative, Firm attorney liaisons work with 16 LGBT student groups at law schools around the country. The ALLSA initiative has a dedicated budget and offers support for each group ranging from networking events to more substantive study skills, resume review, interview training, moot court and career development programs.

Kirkland sponsors law student teams from University of California, Berkeley School of Law, UCLA School of Law, Columbia Law School, New York University School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, The George Washington University Law School, Harvard Law School, The University of Michigan Law School, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School, and the University of Southern California Gould School of Law to participate in the annual moot court competition sponsored by The Williams Institute, the only such competition focused exclusively on sexual orientation and gender identity law. Through this program, the Firm provides students mentorship by inviting them to Kirkland's offices for a moot with attorneys at the Firm in advance of the tournament. Kirkland also provides students a stipend for travel to and from the tournament in Los Angeles.

Support for LGBT-Related Organizations

The Firm supports organizations concerned with workplace equality and the rights of LGBT persons, including:

  • AIDS Legal Council of Chicago
  • American Civil Liberties Union — LGBT and AIDS Project
  • Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom
  • Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Equal Justice Works
  • Equality Illinois
  • Immigration Equality
  • Lambda Legal
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights
  • National LGBT Bar Association (Lavender Law)
  • New York City Bar Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights
  • New York Civil Liberties Union
  • Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
  • The Williams Institute

LGBT-Related Benefits

  • Comprehensive medical, dental, vision, and other benefits for domestic partners and their children.

  • Medical plans that encompass procedures specific to transgender employees, meeting standards issued by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).

Pro Bono Recognition

In honoring Kirkland as a Pro Bono Firm of 2015, Law360 highlighted the Firm's LGBT-related pro bono work, including work related to marriage equality and "reparative" therapy," as being "on the forefront of the ongoing fight for recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights."

  • Kirkland's attorneys, summer associates, and legal assistants devote thousands of hours annually to LGBT-focused pro bono work, including more than 8,000 hours in 2015. Examples of this work include two significant victories overturning the same-sex marriage bans in Illinois and Indiana, resulting in a Seventh Circuit decision that raised the constitutional bar for laws with sexual orientation-based classifications. And, in 2015 alone, the Firm assisted more than one dozen LGBT individuals who were fleeing persecution in their home countries in obtaining asylum in the United States.

  • Kirkland received a Safe Haven Award from Immigration Equality for its Firmwide LGBT Asylum Project in 2014, 2012 and 2010. Kirkland has served Immigration Equality’s asylum clients for nearly a decade.

  • The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) presented Kirkland with its 2012 Advocacy Award for the Firm's pro bono work on TLDEF's Name Change Project, which ensures that transgender individuals can successfully navigate the legal process involved in changing their names in order to move forward with their lives.

© 2016 Kirkland & Ellis LLP