U.S. District Court Judge Staci Yandle to honor recipients



CHICAGO – Forty Illinois law firms that lead the way in providing a welcoming and fair work environment for LGBT employees and engaging with the LGBT community are being recognized by Equality Illinois for "Raising the Bar" in 2016.

In a growing and welcoming trend that helps spread fair and equal treatment, the annual Equality Illinois Law Firm Survey found that not only are the law firms creating affirming work spaces for their own employees, but they are increasingly demanding that the same respect be demonstrated by the vendors and contractors with whom they work.

U.S. District Court Judge Staci Yandle, the first openly LGBT judge in the Seventh Circuit, which encompasses Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, and the first African-American District Judge in the Southern District of Illinois, will honor the firms at the Raising the Bar breakfast on Tuesday (July 26) in the InterContinental Hotel Chicago.

Judge Yandle received a Bachelor of Science degree in political science in 1983 from the University of Illinois and a Juris Doctorate in 1987 from the Vanderbilt University School of Law. From 1987 to 2014, she was in private practice.


President Barack Obama nominated Judge Yandle to the federal bench on January 16, 2014. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 16, 2014 and invested as a member of the court on August 21, 2014. She sits in the federal courthouse in Benton, Illinois.

"We are pleased that Judge Yandle will help us honor the law firms that have taken the initiative to raise the bar by which other firms and companies can be measured towards LGBT inclusivity." said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, which is in its 25th year advocating on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans.

"Law firms–as institutions that make the practice of law their business–play a particularly salient role in advancing LGBT equality. When law firms not only fight for equality and inclusiveness, but mirror the world they hope to see within their own offices, they send a powerful message about the importance of fully embracing all coworkers and staff equally," Johnson said.

With the information gathered from the 2016 Equality Illinois Law Firm Survey, Equality Illinois identified the law firms in Illinois that are leading the way to LGBT workplace equality and community engagement. The Equality Illinois Raising the Bar 2016 report can be read here: http://tinyurl.com/EI-Lawyers-2016.

The findings include:

• For the fifth year in a row, 100% of responding firms have an EEO policy or non-discrimination policy that expressly includes sexual orientation.

• 93% of all responding firms have an EEO policy or non discrimination policy that includes gender identity and/or gender expression, up from 88% of the firms last year

• 49% of responding firms have written gender transition guidelines documenting supportive firm policy on issues such as name changes, restroom accommodations, dress codes and harassment.

• In a growing trend, 47% of responding firms require vendors or contractors to have a nondiscrimination policy that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity and/or expression in order to provide staff or engage in business with the firm, which is up from 31% of responding firms last year and 21% two years ago.

• 79% of responding firms have at least one company-sponsored health plan that does not specifically exclude coverage for transgender, transsexual, or gender identity-related treatments.

Almost all of the firms have LGBT-inclusive diversity groups, train employees on diversity awareness including sexual orientation and gender identity, actively recruit LGBT lawyers and financially support LGBT organizations and community events.

Equality Illinois works with law firms and many other businesses to improve their inclusiveness. For the recognized law firms, inclusion in the 2016 Equality Illinois "Raising the Bar" report is highly valued.

The law firms being recognized, in alphabetical order, are listed here. Also, following the list, many of the firms commented on the meaning of this recognition:


Arnstein & Lehr
Baker & McKenzie
Chapman and Cutler
Clark Hill
DLA Piper
Drinker Biddle & Reath
Foley & Lardner
Franczek Radelet
Goldberg Kohn
Greenberg Traurig
Hinshaw & Culbertson
Holland & Knight
Jenner & Block
K&L Gates
Katten Muchin Rosenman
Kaye Scholer
Kirkland & Ellis
Latham & Watkins
Marshall, Gerstein & Borun

Mayer Brown
McDermott Will & Emery
Michael Best & Friedrich
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg
Nixon Peabody
Perkins Coie
Quarles & Brady
Reed Smith
Schiff Hardin
Seyfarth Shaw
Shook, Hardy & Bacon
Sidley Austin
Thompson Coburn
Winston & Strawn



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