Focus on the T – LGBT training

About the event

In the fourth and final event for our 2022 Legal Pride celebration, we will be joined in conversation by a senior LGBTQ+ leader who will share their perspectives on how the legal profession has evolved, giving an insight into the work they are doing. 

Join us for a conversation and Q&A with the groundbreaking Clare Fielding, Managing Partner and Founder of Town Legal, the leading boutique planning law firm alongside Daniel Winterfeldt (General Counsel EMEA & Asia, Jefferies; Chair, InterLaw Diversity Forum).

From the blurb

Fielding’s career history

Clare Fielding started by giving a potted history of his career.  He studied History at university and started his career at the Bank of England, where he ‘transitioned’ about 30 years ago in 1992/3.  Whilst at the Bank he studied law in the evenings and once qualified went to work at the prestigious Slaughter and May for his first training contract. He secured the training contract at Slaughter just before he transitioned.

Fielding reflected that at the time of his transition, companies did not have policies in place to help with ‘transition’ and that in some ways having no such policies probably had made the experience easier for him.  The Bank had been incredibly helpful on the practical side of things (e.g. facilitating name changes, ID badge update, etc) but colleagues had found it difficult to adjust to pronouns for a short while.  Fielding told us that with flexibility on both sides the issue had been surmountable and that the biggest challenge had been negotiating work relationships in his new identity.

An aside about Slaughter and May

At the time of writing Slaughter and May had a direct link to their internal LGBT+ group PRISM on their external home page in deference to the now two month long Pride month celebrations. The Prism homepage had a high production values video in which a selection of hooray Henry’s and Henrietta’s hilariously hint at their marginalisation. You can read some of their profiles here – it’s notable that one of them is simply an ally and another has ‘loved people of different genders, and no gender’. According to the PRISM page, Slaughter is currently ranked 8th in Stonewall’s Top 100 Employer’s list. They also actively recruit LGBTQ trainees and offer mentorship, making identifying into the alphabet bag a shrewd move for anyone so-minded.

Clash over the politics of pronouns

Winterfeldt from Interlaw Diversity, however, wanted to emphasise to the group that repeated micro aggressions easily became macro aggressions, citing ‘misgendering’ as one of these.  

Fielding felt that people shouldn’t have to announce pronouns, but that if people felt they wanted to do it, he had no objection (I note his company website bios are free of pronouns).  However, he repeated the trans activist assertion that he can ‘tell’ when someone accidentally misgenders him and when they do it on purpose (short of anyone admitting that, I don’t see how this is possible).  

Winterfeldt told us that if we put pronouns in our email bios at work we were showing we were ‘a safe port of call’, which rather contradicted Fielding’s inference that people were capitulating under pressure.   

Fielding agreed that showing support could be really helpful and had been struck by seeing #LwiththeT Pride banners and was moved by the expression of solidarity.

Fielding told us that an acquaintance had expressed nervousness about LGBTQ politics, since they didn’t share them because of a direct conflict with a religious belief, and felt they couldn’t be themselves at work to express this. An apt example, in my opinion, of where diversity and inclusion politics simply breaks down where beliefs directly conflict. However, Winterfeldt declared this example showed that there were only benefits to diversity and inclusion and that ‘it works’.   

Career development

Talking more about his career, Fielding said that Slaughter had been a very relaxed place to work and had found his niche with commercial property and on into planning, which was a perfect mix of politics and working with creatives (architects) where he eventually was promoted to be a Partner.  He left Slaughter in 2012 for another international law firm, Gowling (another law firm fully wrapped up by Stonewall and has set up a Midlands LGBT network group The Alliance Network).  In 2016, feeling constrained by the corporate model, with a few other colleagues he set up Town Legal, which incentivizes through a profit sharing model.  Fielding has clearly has had a very successful career and appeared entirely content with how things had gone.

But what about all the bad stuff …

Winterfeldt, instead of embracing a good news story, wanted instead to talk about the supposed hostility towards trans and non-binary identified people and made a comparison to the treatment of gay people in the 70s and 80s.

Fielding didn’t want to play though and told us that he was puzzled by the whole discussion.  He was aware there was a lot of noise on social media but hadn’t, frankly, been engaged in any of it.  He had not been affected by any of it, nor had he every met anyone who was personally hostile to him.  Rather he felt it was a matter of regret that trans people, who mostly wanted to ‘get on’ with life had become a pawn in ‘someone’s else’s culture war’.   

Fielding’s explanation was that transgender people had simply become more visible and that people found this threatening and this was best managed by social readjustment.  He acknowledged that rights need to be balanced, particularly with sports, and that this required people to discuss the issue rationally.  

A Question of Sport

Such rationality caused Winterfeldt to go off the deep end for several minutes, confirming that he agreed with Fielding that trans inclusion had no impact at all on anyone else, when Fielding had implied the opposite. Winterfeldt repeated that hate was out there and warned us to stay offline, just like what his mate Stephen Whittle had told him. He had personally sat with team captains of the women’s teams at Oxford and Cambridge, one of whom had attested that there had been no problem with having a male on the women’s team. There were no issues in sports, Winterfeldt declared, and that it was all blown out of proportion by the media on ‘hypotheticals’. 

The LGB Alliance

During the same diatribe Winterfeldt mentioned that the LGB Alliance had been interviewed on the subject of sport and he likened it to asking the opinion of the Ku Klux Klan on the topic of race and described them as ‘an anti-trans hate group’. Winterfeldt had taken his whinge to Roll On Friday, who sounded like they had politely told him to fuck off, citing they had only said exactly what the Law Society had. Meanwhile Fielding looked uncomfortable and said he hadn’t been aware of any of this, but admitted he had noticed that when the news had a climate activist on they tended to also put on a climate skeptic for ‘balance’, which probably wasn’t really balance.    

Fielding said he had only become aware of the LGB Alliance recently and described it as an ‘interesting set up’ and repeated that he had not been personally affected by the current public discussion about gender ideology and that he had never met anyone who had objected to his identity.

What could employers do to support trans and non-binary talent?  

Fielding felt that employers should be doing ‘the same thing that they should be doing for any individual in the workplace, which is creating a workplace where that individual feels safe to come to work and express themselves as who they are, within the level which was appropriate for a work environment’ and that trans people didn’t need to be a special case.  

Winterfeldt reminded us that we should put our pronouns in our bios and email signatures again. But what about having medical transition policies? Winterfeldt begged of Fielding.  

Fielding said that such policies must surely be helpful, but that policies also needed to be equitable (I imagine he was thinking of cases where people might want extended leave after recovering from chemo or even just long term sick leave, but he didn’t expand).  

Back to the LGB Alliance

Like a dog returning to his sick, Winterfeldt returned to the issue of the LGB Alliance merely existing, describing them as ‘misguided’ and believes they have felt ‘excluded’. He is fully committed to being inclusive of trans-identified people and that everyone else must be (exclusion of the same somehow how tallying up to ‘transphobia’ in his mind).  

Again, Fielding bucked Winterfeldt’s expectations of him and spoke about the importance of free speech and as such he believed that the LGB Alliance had the right to express their views publicly, in the same way one might publicly disagree with them or even find them offensive.  

Exasperated Winterfeldt told us that his parents had escaped the Holocaust and because of that he definitely did believe in freedom of speech and that he wanted ‘hate out in the open, we want to know who our enemies are’.  Fielding acquiesced slightly, agreeing that he didn’t want to condone anyone’s views, but diplomatically repeated that freedom of speech was important.

Q&A with audience

Was the LGB Alliance a new development?

Stumbling over the LGBTQ acronym Fielding told us that in his personal experience he had always found the community supportive, not only at the time he ‘came out’, but now too.  He was aware that there was a small ‘feminist’ protest at the beginning of a Pride March a few years ago (I think he is referring to 2015).  He believes it is just a small minority who felt like this and he didn’t want to label them ‘anti-trans’.  

Winterfeldt incensed – probably about his own pay packet – informed us that when you looked at the top 10 percent of earners, gay and bi men earned 50 percent less than their straight counterparts. This was a finding of a survey Interlaw carried out and sponsored by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority. Fielding looked down and fiddled with his glasses for the umpteenth time, clearly finding it all a bit embarrassing.  

Sexual orientation by Gender. With respect to sexual orientation, whereas the top 10% of Lesbians was in a higher bracket than Straight women (i.e., 200k to 300k vs. 100k to 200k), the top 10% of Gay men was substantially lower than Straight men (i.e., 300k to 400k vs. 600k to 700k). Thus, gender differences in pay was even more pronounced when controlling for sexual orientation. At the very top were Straight men (600k to 700k) and at the very top were Straight women (100k to 200k) with regard to their top 10% earners.

From the Interlaw SurveyCareer Progression in the Legal Sector 2021
Interesting graph, wonder what it all means?

Winterfeldt said that the LGBTQ community continued to be under attack and that he felt threatened and that the community was being failed.  

Were trends in planning changing to take account of LGBTQ people? 

Fielding said yes, his practice were involved in some projects to dealing with accommodation for senior citizens.  On the other hand, gay and queer bars and clubs were disappearing from the street.  

Was that money related? 

Winterfeldt said yes, Manhattan was too expensive now and many gay businesses had moved to second tier spaces. Fielding pondered whether it was just that there was greater acceptance in society and therefore no longer a need to have separate spaces.  

How do we create a welcoming environment?

Fielding said pronouns could help, when used permissively rather than proscriptively, and supportive policies. Winterfeldt butted in, recommending trans inclusion training with Global Butterflies – ‘they’re the experts’.  Winterfeldt said that he and Fielding were friends with the duo running Global Butterflies and Fielding agreed they were great but added ‘other trans consultancies are available’ and they both had a little giggle about that.

Finally Fielding told us that it wasn’t really his position to proscribe what should be done and could only advise that you would unlikely to ever deal with more than one person at work who was trans, so it would impossible to gauge or understand what trans people as a group want.  He had been completely happy with how he was managed at the Bank of England and Slaughter and May but for another person they might have wanted something completely different.  


Poor Winterfeldt, he got none of the answers or outrage he was so desperately looking for!  Ending up flummoxed instead by an ally who was prepared, at least on the face of things, to see the wider picture. I’m afraid Fielding admitting a friendship with Global Butterflies did rather undermine my trust that he was really as disinterested in identity politics as he claimed, but who knows? In this article with the Times from November 2020, Fielding comments that he was against self-declaration of gender, sympathised with Jordan Peterson and that: ‘While I may have encountered prejudice, I have never experienced sexism,’ proving that (even sort of) acknowledging reality and asking for exceptions is a much more persuasive tactic than the screaming tantrums most trans activists spew.

The other thing was that the webinar was held the day after the Forstater judgment, yet strangely Winterfeldt failed to mention it, despite it being directly relevant to the work of Interlaw Diversity, who are committed to ‘diversity and inclusion’.  I suppose it’s possible that he just isn’t aware of it since he doesn’t do the internet, given Papa Whittle told him not to.

On 6th July 2022 an employment tribunal found that Maya Forstater had been directly discriminated against by the Center for Global Development because of her beliefs. 

This follows on from the precedent-setting judgment of the Employment Appeal Tribunal in June 2021, which found that the “gender critical” belief “that biological sex is real, important, immutable and not to be conflated with gender identity” is covered by the protected characteristic of religion and belief in the Equality Act 2010.

From Sex Matters website – What does the Forstater judgment mean for employers?

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