Having been in the legal profession for well over 30 years, I am never surprised by the hypocrisy that seems to be the hallmark of many law firms. They claim, with wink and a nod and fingers crossed behind their backs, that they don't discriminate against LGBT individuals. Then they do so - often over and over again.
Worse yet, some law firms will claim to have non-discrimination policies that bar anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, promotions, etc., but actually have no such policy, a situation I have addressed on Bilerico.
Even worse yet, other firms demonstrate by the clients that they choose to represent that their claims of non-discrimination are in reality a lie. A case in point: mega-firm King & Spalding, which has signed on to represent Congressional Republicans in the defense of DOMA, a law that as its very essence embodies religion-based anti-gay discrimination.
Here's how King & Spalding's website describes the firm's alleged non-discrimination policy:
King & Spalding is committed to having the brightest and most diverse lawyers it can find, including members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. We work hard to foster and maintain an environment where our lawyers can provide the highest level of legal service while being true to themselves in the process. The firm's non-discrimination policy prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Further, domestic partner benefits are offered for same-sex couples.
Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index Rating of 95 out of 100 (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
King & Spalding also provides ongoing support for various LGBT-related community organizations.
Unless I'm living in some alternate universe, representing those supporting a total non-recognition of the relationships of same sex couples, denying all spousal benefits, etc., does not strike me as fostering an environment where individuals can be "true to themselves."
Indeed, it's something quite the opposite. No one can force a law firm to represent a given client and typically, no individual partner can commit a firm to a potentially highly controversial case. Thus, I can only believe that high ups at King & Spalding had to have approved this anti-LGBT representation.
On my persoanal blog on Tuesday morning I stated that it seemed to me that HRC needs to immediately change King & Spalding's rating to a zero. It turns out that HRC is going a step better. In a press release HRC has announced a campaign against King & Spalding that includes the following:
Ads in mainstream and legal publications entitled "Shame" that feature the stories of families affected by discriminatory law.
Informational letters to the firm's clients and organizations to which they have made charitable contributions informing them of K&S's decision to promote discrimination.
Informational letters to the nation's top law schools informing them of K&S's decision to promote discrimination.
Organizing law students to convey their feelings to K&S.
Email and Twitter campaign among HRC's members and supporters, more than one million supporters of equal rights.
Reconsideration of the firm's Corporate Equality Index score if its decision to take this case remains unchanged. Presently, the company receives a 95% which it markets quite proudly as part of its diversity story.
As for readers and businesses that believe in full equality for LGBT citizens, I suggest they contact the following folks at King & Spalding: Samuel M Matchett, Diversity Committee Chair -1-404 572 2414 and Caroline A, Abney, Human Resources Manager -1- 404 572 4643. Those who are in a postion to select legal counsel might also want to make it clear that, given King & Spalding's anti-gay representation, that law firm will no longer be in consideration for legal services.