LGBTQ Inclusiveness and Leadership @Orrick

We believe that to be great at what you do, you need to be able to be yourself. Our commitment to inclusiveness enables our LGBTQ lawyers and staff to be authentic and to thrive.

For 12 consecutive years, we have achieved a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual Corporate Equality Index, which evaluates LGBTQ-related policies and practices. We were one of the first global law firms to offer benefits to same-sex couples and fully inclusive transgender benefits. But sometimes equal benefits have different tax consequences, so we offer a "tax gross-up payment" to offset the effects of taxes on employer-provided health benefits for same-sex couples.

Here are some of the ways we are investing in LGBTQ individuals at Orrick and in our communities.

Accountability and Collaboration

To create accountability, we prepare a "balanced scorecard" annually for each of our five global business units. This report analyzes performance in women, minority and LGBTQ lawyer recruiting, retention and promotion, as well as client team composition. Our senior management team meets regularly with business unit leaders to discuss actions for improvement. We also conduct equity analyses on our compensation proposals each year to ensure there is no adverse impact on diverse populations.

Around the world, our various offices have included LGBTQ-related programs as part of our annual Diversity and Inclusion "Dive/In" celebration – now in its ninth year – including a presentation in our London office by Stonewall, the leading LGBTQ nonprofit in the United Kingdom; conversations with LGBTQ rights activists Chaz Bono and Jason Collins; and a reading of the American Foundation for Equal Rights’ and Broadway Impact’s play "8," based on the transcripts of the federal trial that led to the overturning of California’s Proposition 8, which had eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Many LGBTQ lawyers at Orrick participate in our LGBTQ affinity group, which meets regularly to support the retention and development of LGBTQ lawyers and further promote inclusiveness. The group also hosts programs, sometimes in collaboration with our clients, to promote LGBTQ equality at Orrick and in the profession.

Community Partnerships

We partner with a number of national and local LGBTQ bar associations to promote diversity in the legal profession. Our lawyers are founding members of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on LGBT People and the Law and active members of Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom and the LGBT Rights Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. We are a longtime sponsor of the National LGBT Bar Association’s Lavender Law Conference and Career Fair, and regularly team with the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area to host programs featuring LGBT judges. Additionally, we are the lead law firm sponsor of StartOut, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to creating great business leaders by fostering LGBT entrepreneurs.

Pro Bono Leadership in Antidiscrimination, Marriage Equality, Transgender Veterans’ Rights and Asylum

Our award-winning pro bono program has a long tradition of advancing the rights of the LGBTQ community with broad policy impacts and life-changing results for individuals seeking justice and peace.

After a three-year discrimination case against two adoption websites that refused to post profiles of a prospective adoptive couple solely because they were a same-sex couple, we obtained a landmark settlement on behalf of the National Center for Lesbian rights, which required the defendants to either comply with California antidiscrimination law or cease providing their services to Californians. Currently, the firm is co-counseling a case with the Prison Law Office that raises cutting-edge legal issues on behalf of a California transgender prisoner seeking access to medically necessary care.

Partnering with the National LGBT Bar Association – the country’s largest organization of LGBT and allied legal professionals – our team created precedent and successfully represented three transgender veterans to have the Army and Navy issue new military discharge paperwork (known as Form DD-214) to reflect their correct names and identities. Because military records are used in nearly every aspect of post-military life, from medical care to employment and banking, incorrect records can create significant roadblocks and affect benefits.

Our teams played pivotal roles in making history on marriage equality. In 2015, our Supreme Court and Appellate team filed an amicus brief on behalf of 74 family law scholars in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that affirmed the constitutional rights of LGBT individuals and same-sex couples in all 50 states, striking down bans against gay marriage nationwide. Relying on state laws, our brief dismantled two principle arguments the states had asserted to justify the marriage bans: that marriage exists to encourage procreation and that marriage exists to provide a model of the "optimal" setting for raising children. Previously, in 2013, our team filed an amicus brief in Hollingsworth v. Perry on behalf of over 100 amici – including a wide range of leading companies such as Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Levi Strauss, NIKE, Office Depot, Oracle and Panasonic – urging the Supreme Court to hold that the right to marry for same-sex couples is a fundamental right and that laws prohibiting same-sex marriage violate the Equal Protection Clause.

A pro bono litigation team secured a substantial monetary settlement for a gay hate crime victim in New York City. Our client was harassed by his superintendent over a long period of time, culminating with the superintendent brutally assaulting our client with a steel rod while shouting anti-gay hate speech.

We also regularly represent LGBTQ clients who are seeking asylum in the United States based on the persecution they suffer in their home countries as a result of their sexual orientation. We have represented clients from Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Russia and Yemen to name just a few.