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associates—Albert Giang, Alastair J. Agcaoili, and Kelly Perigoe—describe why they like working at a 30-attorney fi rm. As a young gay attorney, Agcaoili says his priority is


to work in an environment where he feels accepted and entirely comfortable. Being part of a small fi rm with an openly gay name partner, he adds, certainly sets the tone, and knowing that the name partner is also a nationally respected litigator makes things even better. “Litigation is a rough-and-tumble practice area. It’s been


amazing for me to work closely with gay mentors who are succeeding in what many perceive as a hyper-masculine arena. In a small fi rm, I learned rather quickly how you can be LGBT and a very successful litigator at the same time.” Fellow associate Giang agrees. “At a small fi rm you have


the opportunity to work closely with all of the partners. For me, as a gay attorney, it’s been benefi cial to observe a wide range of law and discover where my style fi ts in.” Before joining the fi rm in 2004, Giang clerked on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. It was during his clerkship that he developed a preference for a more intimate work experi- ence. “I loved that small chamber environment, the way I could very comfortably approach the judge with questions everyday and so easily confer with my co-clerks.” After the clerkship, Giang considered returning to the 100-attorney Los Angeles offi ce of the international law fi rm where he worked after graduating from Stanford Law School, “but it occurred to me that I needed to check out smaller shops.” Another factor that prompted Giang to go small was his


desire to do pro bono and public interest work. While he concedes that LGBT-related pro bono cases are available at


big fi rms, he has found them to be more readily available at smaller fi rms that are LGBT-friendly. Also, Giang correctly assumed that at a small fi rm he would have an opportunity to learn from a variety of more senior attorneys. In fact, during the fi rst six months of his current job, he had worked with most of the fi rm’s partners. T ere was never a chance of Giang being funneled into a narrow practice group where he would be working a sub-specialty under only one partner.


BEING OUT AT WORK For fi rst-year associate Kelly Perigoe, who joined her fi rm in October after clerking with the Ninth Circuit, being out professionally was less of a dramatic event than a natural occurrence. It just sort-of happened. “Because there were so many LGBT resources and networking events at law school [UCLA School of Law], it became pretty clear that it wouldn’t be a problem for me to be out in the profession. Had it appeared more daunting early on, I might have been forced to really make a conscious decision, and there’s a chance I might have chosen not to be openly gay at work. “Currently, I know some really progressive people who are


not out at their fi rms,” Perigoe continues. “Initially it really surprised me, but after some consideration I realized it has a lot to do with how much your fi rm focuses on employees’ lives outside of the offi ce. If you’re at a fi rm that doesn’t talk about family and home life, it requires taking some very real, affi rmative steps to signal that you’re an LGBT attorney; whereas here, there’s a focus on family life. In fact, it would be pretty diffi cult not to be out at work here. T at’s a big part of why I was drawn to my particular fi rm.”


“ At small fi rms, all associates need to know all aspects of a case.”—ALBERT GIANG


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MAY/JUNE 2011 DIVERSITY & THE BAR®


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