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September 9, 2010 3:46 PM

Foley Sponsors New U.S. Legal Directory for LGBT Lawyers

Posted by Brian Baxter

The National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Bar Association has launched its first-ever directory of LGBT partners and LGBT-owned firms.

Sponsored by Foley & Lardner, the searchable directory will give corporate clients looking to hire qualified yet diverse counsel another tool in that endeavor.

"In the wake of the recession, the legal profession is more competitive than ever," LGBT Bar executive director D'Arcy Kemnitz said in a statement announcing the directory's launch. "At a time when LGBT attorneys continue to be underrepresented at the partner level, the [LGBT Bar] hopes the directory will provide opportunities for LGBT owned law firms and LGBT-identified law firm partners to form long-lasting partnerships with diversity-minded clients."

LGBT Bar spokesman Juan Garcia told The Am Law Daily in an e-mail that the directory, which is still in test mode, will be made available to the public on the organization's Web site on Monday.

Foley's sponsorship made the directory possible, according to the LGBT release. The firm has several partners listed in the directory. John "Jack" Lord, Jr., a Foley labor and employment partner and head of the firm's LGBT affinity group, says that Foley became involved when a woman in the firm's diversity department mentioned that while she had no trouble finding minority-owned firms for Foley to partner with, she was having trouble identifying those that are LGBT-owned.

"Coincidentally, I was talking with D'Arcy Kemnitz about the lack of resources out there on finding those firms, so it was perfect timing," Lord says. "So that's how we teamed up."

Lord says that Foley committed to sponsoring the directory about six months ago. In addition to corporations looking for counsel, he believes that journalists, law students, headhunters, and other law firms looking to partner up with LGBT-owned shops will also find the new resource useful. Nonprofit groups, such as HIV or AIDS service organizations, can also use the directory to find pro bono counsel, Lord says.

Foley agreed to provide financial assistance to the LGBT Bar in order to complete the directory, Lord adds, declining to reveal the amount.

"D'Arcy's a good businesswoman," he says. "We didn't start talking about that initially, but she brought it up, and we figured it was a good idea."

In her statement, Kemnitz credited Foley with understanding that "employees with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, contacts, and sensitivities are better positioned to meet the increasingly diverse needs of their clients. The inclusion of LGBT attorneys at the partner level can provide a competitive edge that law firms can ill afford to squander."

A quick examination of the directory by The Am Law Daily reveals that partners from a wide array of Am Law 200 firms are included in the listing.

Earlier this month, the LGBT Bar named Greenberg Traurig litigation counsel Joseph Vallo to its board of directors.

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Awesome! Congratulations. What a wonderful way to find solidarity while networking.

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