Top law firm establishes LGBT staff network

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One of the best-known names in the ‘magic circle’ of leading law firms has decided to set up a network for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans staff just months after settling a claim of sexual orientation discrimination.

A former partner at Clifford Chance made his claim in November last year and the firm settled the case for an undisclosed amount of money.

Michael Bryceland’s claim, which involved direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of his sexual orientation, was withrdrawn in April and he left Clifford Chance soon after.

Now Clifford Chance, the largest law firm in the world, both in terms of revenue and number of lawyers, has announced that it will establish an LGBT network.

Last month gay rights group Stonewall asked to meet representatives of the law firm following the case brought against them by Mr Bryceland.

The case came as an embarrassment to the firm following their commendation in Stonewall’s list of ‘Diversity Champions’ in 2006.

The diversity kitemark means the firm promises to ensure benefits to same-sex couples and adopt a zero-tolerance approach to homophobia in the workplace.

Stonewall’s head of workplace programmes, Johnathan Finney, told The Lawyer that he was pleased that an LGBT network was to be established.

“Our view is that establishing a lesbian and gay network group, which many organisations have done in various sectors, gives these staff a visible element within the workforce,” he said.

“Employers can then engage directly with the needs of staff.”

Clifford Chance’s headquarters are in Canary Wharf, London.

They operate in 20 countries and employ 3,800 attorneys.

In 2006 the firm registered record revenues of more than $2 billion (£1bn).

The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 make it unlawful to discriminate against employees or prospective employees because they are gay, lesbian or bisexual.