A new forum for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community within the legal profession was launched last night.

The InterLaw Forum aims to strengthen diversity within the London legal sector and promote the recruitment, retention and advancement of LGBT talent at all levels of the profession.

The launch event, held at the National Gallery, was hosted by international law firm Simmons and Simmons and was attended by 300 people from 47 law firms and 39 financial and corporate institutions.

As part of the evening £1,500 was raised for Stonewall, the UK’s leading campaigning organisation for LGB equality.

The money will go towards the Education for All programme, which tackles homophobic bullying in schools.

Speaking at the event, chief executive of Stonewall Ben Summerskill said:

“The launch of the InterLaw Forum is a hugely positive development for the legal industry.

“In a highly competitive labour market, talented lesbian and gay graduate recruits are drawn increasingly to businesses that will not only treat them fairly at point of recruitment but also transparently offer the chance to rise to the top of their chosen career.

“I myself briefly studied law when I was younger and one of the reasons I gave it up at the age of 20, is because I wanted to go into a profession where I could be completely honest and open about who I was with my colleagues and clients.

“Tonight, I’m delighted to see the way the profession has changed so much.”

InterLaw Forum founder and Simmons and Simmons corporate partner Daniel Winterfeldt told PinkNews.co.uk:

“We were overwhelmed with the response and support from the London legal sector and the City.”

Last year a Law Society report revealed that the “macho” culture of law firms is hindering gay and lesbian lawyers from coming out at work, fearing it will affect their career progression.

The society’s first report on the career experiences of LGB solicitors discovered “undertones of homophobia” in legal practices with employees feeling restricted by perceptions and expectations of discrimination.

The report described “constant trips to Spearmint Rhino (a lap dancing club chain), rugby matches and drinking sessions as holding undertones of homophobia.”

The first meeting of the InterLaw Forum was held on the 18th March and attended by more than 80 people from 24 City law firms and members of some of the world’s top investment banks.

The second meeting was held this week at Lovells, a leading international legal practice, when the organisation’s mission statement was agreed.

The Forum is open to all LGBT lawyers and to staff networks in law firms.

For more information email daniel.winterfeldt@simmons-simmons.com