InterLaw Diversity Forum
The InterLaw Diversity Forum for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (“LGBT”) Networks (the “InterLaw Diversity Forum”) is an inter-organisational forum for the LGBT networks in law firms and all personnel (lawyers and non-lawyers) in the legal sector, including in-house counsel (the “LGBT Legal Community”) and has over 1,000 members and supporters from more than 70 law firms and 40 corporates and financial institutions. The InterLaw Diversity Forum was founded in March 2008 by Daniel Winterfeldt, Simmons & Simmons US securities partner, working with other top London law firms including Allen & Overy, Baker & McKenzie, Clifford Chance, Eversheds, Herbert Smith and Lovells. The InterLaw Diversity Forum’s overall objective is to encourage LGBT diversity and inclusion in the legal sector.
The InterLaw Diversity Forum was created in response to a need for an organisation to address LGBT issues in the London legal sector. Until 2008 no London law firm had entered the Stonewall Work Equality Index’s (“WEI”) Top 100 Employers for LGB Employees, placing the legal sector far behind its City peers. The WEI is the definitive national benchmarking exercise showcasing Britain’s top employers for lesbian, gay and bisexual staff. In addition, top clients of City law firms had asked the London legal community to address LGBT issues and to create an environment where employees can reach their fullest potential without regard to sexual orientation. In addition, the creation of the InterLaw Diversity Forum was influenced by the recommendations in a 2006 study published by The Law Society: Career experiences of gay and lesbian solicitors.
Since the launch of the InterLaw Diversity Forum, the legal sector’s performance in Stonewall’s WEI has dramatically improved: In 2008 Pinsent Masons was the first law firm to enter the WEI Top 100 Employers; in 2009 four law firms—Simmons & Simmons, Pinsent Masons, Herbert Smith and Eversheds—entered the WEI Top 100 Employers; in 2010 the same four firms stayed in the Top 100 but placed even higher, along with the rest of the legal sector. Stonewall stated: “A major part of the movement forward for the [legal] sector has been [the] InterLaw [Diversity Forum]. It helped provide a sector-specific focus.”
The InterLaw Diversity Forum is currently co-chaired by Daniel Winterfeldt of CMS Cameron McKenna and Stephen Ward.