A major study into how being gay can affect the careers of lawyers is being carried out, The Lawyer reports.

Only four law firms made it on to Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index this year, making law the second least gay-friendly profession on the list.

The Law Society, the InterLaw Diversity Forum and Stonewall are to release a survey this week asking law professionals 35 questions.

It will aim to improve law firm recruitment and retention, along with identifying any trends in popular practice areas for LGB lawyers.

Nicky Edwards, head of public affairs at the Law Society, said: “The progress law firms have made can be seen from their performance in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index (WEI) and is supported by the existence of LGBT networks.

“We’ve moved to a stage where it isn’t necessary to convince people of the need for these policies, but to see how effective they are.”

InterLaw founder and Simmons & Simmons partner Daniel Winterfeldt said: “If you look at the WEI, clearly there are some issues or the profession wouldn’t be second from bottom.”

Mark Brandon, a partner at recruitment consultancy First Counsel, added: “I’ve had a couple of gay candidates who’ve said they’d proactively bring up their sexuality in a first interview with a law firm because they want to see the reaction – if the firm has a diversity policy that gives them the chance to talk about it.”