Celebrating Pride in the Legal Profession

We have teamed up with the Bar Council and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) to attend the Pride in London parade for the first time in three years.

The event marked 50 years since the first Pride march was held in the UK.

Prior to the event, we caught up with some of our LGBT+ committee members about their experiences in the profession. We asked them:

  • What does pride mean to you?
  • Why should members of the legal profession get involved in Pride Month? Why is this important?
  • What steps should the legal profession take to better include LGBT+ lawyers?

Jacqui Rhule-Dagher

Litigation lawyer at Hogan Lovells International LLP

Pride isn’t just a month for me. It is a state of being. It’s about living each day authentically, with integrity and pride.

Pride Month provides an opportunity to recognize the diversity of our community; while appreciating the work that people have provided historically to enable us to live and work freely.

The legal profession has come a long way over the years, but it must not become complacent.

It is also hoped that the gains made during Pride Month will continue throughout the year. After all, we don’t lose our LGBT+ identity on July 1st.

Firms that celebrate Pride Month in a meaningful way can encourage more LGBT+ lawyers to be in the workplace.

The Pride in the Law survey found that the lack of LGBT+ role models in the workplace was the most cited pressing issue for gay men (42%), lesbian/gay women (55%) and bisexual people (78%) .

Visibility matters. If you don’t see people who look like you, you may start to think there is something wrong with your appearance.

Many law firms will have LGBT+ inclusive policies and procedures.

The best will translate them into tangible actions. This will vary from company to company, but some initiatives could include educating members of the profession about microaggressions and unconscious bias.

Intersection-focused companies tend to be the most successful at achieving inclusivity.

They recognize that LGBT+ identities can intersect with class, gender, race, and neurodiversity, for example. They also understand that it is not the responsibility of the people who are part of these groups to speak up – it should be a collaborative effort between all members of the profession.

A white man, a black woman and a white woman are walking and smiling, holding a blue banner.  They are outside in front of a crowd.

Jonathan Wheeler

Managing Partner of Bolt Burdon Kemp

Johnathan is a white man.  He is wearing a suit with a red bow tie and he is in front of a window.

Pride month is about our community coming together, making a splash and having fun.

It is also a platform from which we can help raise political awareness of global inequalities.

I think it is imperative that our LGBT+ lawyers are visible – we can be great role models for our colleagues.

The Pride in the Law report found that 52% of respondents cited the lack of visible LGBT+ role models in their workplace as a problem for them and a potential barrier to coming out and being allowed to be themselves. At work.

Being proud and proud as a member of the LGBT+ lawyer community can certainly help with that.

Older people need to champion and ally themselves with the staff networks that should first be established by and for the community within the workplace.

Don’t pretend to talk about the need for true equality and diversity within your organizations and ensure you have a culture that empowers your employees to be themselves.

A large group of people gathered outside holding pride flags.

Laura Thomas

Social Care and Adult Education Advisor at Wigan Council

Laura is a white woman.  She wears a purple t-shirt with a Pride flag on the back.  She is standing in a crowd of people.

Pride means remembering the past and present challenges of the community, but also openly celebrating where we are today. Pride also means a sense of belonging for me and seeing a bit more of the rainbow.

Pride month is a great way for businesses and organizations to show off as LGBT+ supporters.

It also serves as an encouragement to the next generation. There are so many brilliant LGBT+ people in the profession: why not them next?

More can still be done:

  • more inclusive gender options
  • LGBT+ networks of more active employees

The progress has been incredible even since my baby face entered the profession, but there is still a long way to go to become a truly inclusive profession.

A blonde and white woman wears sunglasses and stands among a group of people.  She is holding a sign that says hashtag Legal Pride.

Tom Ketteley

Tom is a white man with a rainbow painted on his face.  He smiles in front of a crowd of people.

Associate Infected Blood Investigation Counsel

Pride gives me the freedom to be me! It’s about saying “it’s me and I’m proud to be me”.

I keep hearing from students and rookie lawyers struggling as they go back into the closet and hide their queer identity when they join the profession.

By being loud and proud, I hope to challenge assumptions about who can be a lawyer.

Our profession is stronger when we tap into the diversity of talent. We can find better solutions to the toughest legal problems by being able to look at the same problem through different eyes.

Diversity within the legal profession is a strength that should be nurtured and celebrated.

The Law Society’s Pride in the Law 2021 report shows that the experiences of LGBT+ lawyers are mixed, but with many encouraging signs of progress.

We cannot allow progress to stagnate.

I would like more of us to take up the challenge of being the visible role models we want to see in the profession and to ensure that we continue to celebrate difference within our profession.