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Law Firm Takes on 'Bro Culture' in Tech, Opens LGBTQ Lab

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 01, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Nixon Peadody is an evolving law firm.

Since its founding in 1999, it has merged with at least five law firms and grown into an international enterprise employing about 700 lawyers. Earlier this year, it brought another type of business into its fold -- StartOut Growth Lab, an incubator for LGBTQ businesses.

Thomas Gaynor, managing partner at the firm's San Francisco office, says it is about changing culture. He said it is especially a challenge for LGBTQ startups in the tech world.

"Bro Culture"

Gaynor told the ABA Journal that tech's 'bro culture' stands in the way of LGBTQ startups. The gay community has progressed significantly in civil rights, he said, but not in economic independence. That's why his law firm gives office space and legal support to the incubator.

"High-quality legal advice is often a challenge for any startup," he said, adding that few gay lawyers run large law firms. "You can probably count on two hands the number of LGBTQ people running major law firms at this point."

Nixon Peabody has seven LGBTQ start-ups under its wings, and is looking for more. Gaynor, a gay rights activist for 30 years, said his law firm has in its "core DNA a commitment to equality and diversity."

According to reviews, it's also a great place to work for most people. It ranks high in various law firm surveys.

Room for Improvement

Glassdoor, reporting 69 employee reviews, gives the firm 3.7 out of 4 stars. Most say it has great perks, work-life balance and benefits.

Some reviewers say there is not a lot of room for upper-level advancement, and one tipped their hand about another possible merger. For now, the law firm is promoting its LGBTQ incubator and fighting for more inclusiveness in the tech world.

According to a survey cited by the San Francisco Chronicle, 80 percent of LGBTQ people reported "some form of unfairness" in their workplace. Nearly a quarter said they had been subject to public humiliation.

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