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 2015, 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 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 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.
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.
Demonstrating Kirkland's leadership in the LGBT legal community, the National LGBT Bar Association has named nine Firm attorneys to its Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 list. 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.
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.
1L Diversity Scholar Program
1L law students who are selected to be Kirkland & Ellis Diversity Scholars will gain early exposure to one of the world’s leading law firms. This program includes vast opportunities for diverse 1L law students. In the spring, Scholars will participate in a day-long conference in the Kirkland New York office combining unique networking opportunities with Kirkland attorneys, Kirkland clients, and other scholars representing the brightest law students from schools across the country, with a substantive look into practicing in a large law firm. Scholars will participate in trainings led by Kirkland partners and take part in presentations from high profile Kirkland clients. Upon receiving the distinction of becoming a Kirkland & Ellis Diversity Scholar, participants will receive a mentor who will be eager to support and develop them. Relationships formed during this program are designed to last throughout the Scholar’s career.
Diversity Fellowship Program
Kirkland has created the Kirkland & Ellis Diversity Fellowship for diverse law students across the country who are considering joining Kirkland's summer program. Since the inception of the Diversity Fellowship in 2004, Kirkland has awarded more than 140 fellowships, with stipends totaling more than $2.5 million. To apply for the Fellowship, applicants need only seek a summer position at one of Kirkland's domestic offices and submit their transcript, resume and a brief personal statement. If selected, they will receive a $25,000 stipend upon completing their summer associate term.
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 Illinois
- Immigration Equality
- Lambda Legal
- National Center for Lesbian Rights
- National LGBT Bar Association (Lavender Law)
- National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
- 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
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 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.