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New study reveals the everyday barriers facing disabled lawyers

Posted: 24 January 2020

The launch of the Legally Disabled research reveals the career experiences of disabled people in the legal profession.

Disabled people working in the legal profession face a culture and outmoded practices that hamper efforts to build successful careers, according to a study published today.

More than half (54%) of disabled solicitors and paralegals involved in the study thought their career and promotion prospects inferior to their non-disabled colleagues. Some 40% either never or only sometimes tell their employer or prospective employer they are disabled. Just 8.5% of respondents who were disabled when they started their training disclosed their disability in their application.

Many of the participants – drawn from across the legal profession – told researchers they hide their disability when applying for training places or jobs. They also encounter hostility and discrimination at work – including when seeking the ‘reasonable adjustments’ to their working environment or practice they are entitled to under the law.

The report, Legally Disabled? The Career Experiences of disabled people working in the Legal profession, draws on focus groups, interviews and surveys with solicitors, barristers, trainees and paralegals. The research was commissioned by DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) a £5 million research programme led by disabled people.

The study was undertaken by a research team based at Cardiff Business School, working with the Lawyers with Disabilities Division of the Law Society.

Download the full executive summary and recommendations report here