Ethnic minority lawyers

Q&A with Sam De Silva

Sam De Silva answers questions on representation, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, ahead of becoming chair of our Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division in October 2021.

Outside of the Law Society, tell us about your role

Sam-De-Silva-author

I’m a technology, outsourcing and data partner at CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP (CMS), based in the London office (pre-COVID).

I advise both customers and suppliers in complex and strategic technology and outsourcing transactions.

I’m also involved in a number of IT industry/sector committees, such as being:

  • a trustee of the Chartered Institute for IT (BCS)
  • on the Technology Strategy Board of the ICAEW
  • chair of the Legal Specialist Group of the Institute of Risk Management
  • chair of the Legal Specialist Group of the BCS

Why did you join the Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division (EMLD)?

I appreciate that this sounds a bit trite, but try to make a difference.

As one of only a small number of partners in a City law firm from an ethnic minority background, I believe my lived experience could provide useful insight to some of the issues and challenges ethnic minorities face.

Can you tell us a bit about the work of the EMLD?

The EMLD is a division of the Law Society that represents Black, Asian and minority ethnic solicitors in England and Wales.

Our work includes lobbying on behalf of our members, such as providing input into consultations on issues directly impacting our members.

The EMLD offers resources, events and research to support diversity and the inclusion of ethnic minorities in the profession, and raise awareness of some of the issues faced by our members.

We also work with universities to support students aspiring to become solicitors.

What have been your highlights as chair of the committee?

As my role of chair only commences in October, it’s too early to say!

However, being the previous vice chair, what really jumped out at me was the great passion and drive of the other committee members in pushing forward the ethnic minority agenda and debate.

What are the priorities for the EMLD committee in the next year?

Continuing to raise the profile of the Race for Inclusion research by working with our members to implement the recommendations.

The research highlighted the correlation between mental health and being from a black, Asian minority ethnic group.

This year we’ll be focusing on mental health and how we can work with organisation such as LawCare to assist our members.

We’ll also be looking at regulation and disproportionate outcomes on ethnic minority practitioners.

What steps would an individual need to take to become involved with the EMLD?

Not difficult at all!

Sign up to My Law Society and select diversity and inclusion followed by ethnic minority lawyers division as an area of interest.

You can also join our LinkedIn group Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division for updates and to connect with some of our members.

What needs to happen to diversify senior leadership roles in the City?

Commitment from the top.

In addition, clients need to make diversity a real priority by ensuring that those law firms which do not demonstrate diversity and inclusion (at all levels) amongst the client team (and not just the pitch team) have limited, or no mandates with that client.

What is your biggest hope for the legal profession?

That it’s an accurate representation of the multi-cultural society that we live in, and that access to the profession is granted no matter what your ethnicity and/or your social background.

Share some great advice you’ve been given

Back yourself and never give up, no matter how tough it gets.

Whatever positive change you can make, regardless of the size, it’ll benefit others following you.

Which three words best sum up the EMLD?

Passionate, driven and committed.

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