Located in Washington, D.C., Ackerman Brown is a boutique law firm that the Washington Business Journal has named “Best Place to Work” every year since 2012. Glen Ackerman founded the firm in 2008, and the majority of its attorneys identify as gay or lesbian. It is the largest National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) certified law firm in estate planning for the LGBTQ community. Ackerman Brown also offers a variety of additional legal services, including business filings and divorce cases.
In Ackerman Brown’s first year, the firm’s clients mainly comprised members of the LGBTQ community. Now, those from the general population make up half of its work.
In the legal world, developing relationships with both short- and long-term clients is important. The attorneys at Ackerman Brown understand that retaining loyal clients is vital to their ongoing success.
“Our clients and our adversaries know that we are comfortable in our skin and that we provide excellent service. Everyone who interacts with us knows that we are genuine,” said Partner Chris Brown in an interview with the Washington Business Journal.
One of the biggest factors of a great workplace is having an environment where everyone feels comfortable being who they are, while getting their work done. Understanding someone’s personal needs invariably ties in with their legal needs.
“I do a lot of litigation and spend a lot of time in court. There can be a fair amount of waiting. It’s a great time to get to know my clients,” states Meaghan Hearn, senior associate. “If I feel comfortable, I can share what I did over the weekend, even if it entails coming out. Being open with who I am and relating to clients on a personal level help me build a foundation of trust.”
Work and life mesh a lot. To be happy, to be able to be the person you are—and the person you want to grow into—plays a big part.
“I rarely encounter any negative experiences, but on the off chance that I do, I know that my co-workers and friends all support me,” shares Hearn. “I came out during law school, and my friends were 150 percent happy for me. I have become much more confident and accepting of myself over the years. Being out at work really isn’t an issue anymore.”
Coming out to colleagues and clients can be a difficult decision. The level and length of a relationship, the setting, and personal intuition are among the factors that influence such a decision. However, people are often pleasantly surprised by the support they receive from colleagues, clients, and friends. As the world becomes more progressive, coming out is becoming easier. The LGBTQ community is vast, and there are always people to lean on and resources to access for assistance.