May 10, 2013 Articles

Is It Time to Start Your Own Firm?

By Larry D. Smith

It began as an innocuous entry on a 2009 partners meeting agenda: "marketing." It opened with a partner challenging my bio on the firm's website, which, among other professional accomplishments, reflected that I had been elected president of the local voluntary bar of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) attorneys. As he put it, that might lead clients to think that "we support it"—"we" being the firm and "it" being things like gay marriage. I sat quietly as, one by one, other partners around the table chimed in. One said he didn't care personally that I was gay, but he felt that the Bible condemned "it" so he was against "it." Another partner remembered that a client had asked back in the early 1990s (before I had come out to the firm in 1997) whether I was gay, and he had told the client no.

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