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 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 2013, 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. To view the video presented at the 2009 HRC awards gala, please click here.
In 2014, for the seventh 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 2013, for the fourth year in a row, Equality Illinois recognized Kirkland as one of the top Illinois law firms for LGBT equality.
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. For example, LGBT attorneys gather each year for a Firmwide dinner and a client networking event in connection with the National LGBT Bar Association's Lavender Law Conference & Career Fair. Kirkland's LGBT affinity group also collaborates with the Firm's other affinity groups in holding formal training, mentoring and leadership opportunities aimed at the Firm's diverse attorneys. The LGBT Subcommittee of the Firmwide Diversity Committee meets regularly to develop and assess policies and initiatives to meet the needs of the Firm's LGBT attorneys.
Demonstrating Kirkland's leadership in the LGBT legal community, the National LGBT Bar Association has named six Firm attorneys to its Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 list in the first four years of this feature, including litigation partner Amy Crawford and intellectual property partner Edward Sadtler in 2013. Numerous Kirkland attorneys also sit on boards and other leadership councils of leading LGBT advocacy groups, including Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and The Williams Institute.
As part of Kirkland's award-winning "ALLSA" initiative, Firm attorney liaisons work with more than a dozen 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 is sponsoring student teams from University of California, Berkeley School of Law, UCLA School of Law, University of Chicago Law School, Columbia Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, The George Washington University Law School, Harvard Law School, New York University School of Law and University of Southern California Gould School of Law to participate in the 10th Annual Williams Institute Moot Court Competition. Firm attorneys will work with the students from sponsor schools to practice and refine their arguments, and Kirkland will provide financial support for their travel to the two-day tournament at UCLA School of Law.
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 Rights Project
- Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom
- Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
- Equal Justice Works
- Equality California
- Equality Illinois
- Howard Brown Health Center
- Immigration Equality
- Lambda Legal
- National Center for Lesbian Rights
- National LGBT Bar Association (Lavender Law)
- Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
- Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund
- The Williams Institute
- Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
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).
Representative Pro Bono Matters
In honoring Kirkland as a Pro Bono Firm of 2013, Law360 highlighted the Firm's LGBT-related pro bono work as being "on the forefront of the ongoing fight for recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights."
Kirkland, in partnership with Lambda Legal, represents 16 same-sex couples and their children in a lawsuit in Illinois state court against the Cook County clerk, who denied the couples marriage licenses. The case argues that barring same-sex couples and their children from marriage is a violation of the Illinois Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and due process.
Kirkland, in partnership with the ACLU LGBT Project and the ACLU of Michigan, represents five same-sex couples in a federal lawsuit to strike down a Michigan state law that bans many public entities from providing health care insurance to the domestic partners of their employees. In June 2013, the district court granted the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction barring the state of Michigan from enforcing the law, finding that the plaintiffs were likely to prevail on their claim under the Equal Protection Clause.
Kirkland, in partnership with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Waples & Hanger, represented Dynasty Young, a gay teenager bullied by his high school classmates in Indianapolis. Dynasty sought help from the school's administrators unsuccessfully and was eventually expelled for using a self-protection flashlight to scare away several students threatening to attack him. Kirkland helped secure Dynasty a settlement from the Indianapolis Public Schools that included $65,000 and removal of the expulsion from his record.
Kirkland represented prominent demographic scholar Gary Gates of The Williams Institute in preparing two amicus briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. The briefs were filed in support of plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act in the Perry and Windsor cases.
Kirkland received a Safe Haven Award from Immigration Equality for its Firmwide LGBT Asylum Project in both 2010 and 2012. Kirkland has represented more than 20 Immigration Equality clients during its pro bono partnership with the organization.
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.