We recently put out a statement expressing our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
However, we recognise that actions speak louder than words, so we’ve compiled a central resource detailing the work we’re doing to promote diversity and inclusion and to improve the experience of black and ethnic minority members in the solicitor profession.
The Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division (EMLD) and subsequent committees are focused on supporting members of the legal profession from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.
Our diversity and inclusion team and the EMLD committee deliver a dedicated workstream focused on improving the experiences of BAME people within the legal profession.
This is done in a variety of ways, but some examples are:
- supporting the legal profession and the organisations within it to be more inclusive and diverse
- identifying obstacles faced by the BAME community within the legal sector and how to address them
- offering members of the profession a platform to share their experiences
We’re also dedicated to creating resources to support the BAME community.
While our main aim is to improve all aspects of diversity and inclusion across all characteristics, we understand that each characteristic will likely determine differing experiences.
In December 2019, we published a toolkit for improving BAME inclusivity within the workplace. The toolkit details how inclusivity can be woven into your organisation and breaks down why it’s so valuable.
Our largest piece of work for 2020 is researching the experiences of BAME members of the legal profession.
As we learned with our thorough research into women in law, research and qualitative data is vital in understanding what is preventing equality at all levels of the profession.
This research – which we hope will launch towards the end of this year despite the pandemic – will focus on recruitment and promotion, as these are key areas our members have identified as the most pressing difficulties they face.
This will inform our work to come and gives us greater insight into how to build a more diverse, inclusive and equal legal profession.
We’ve also been working on a long standing project in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC), the Bar Council and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives called the Pre-Application Judicial Education (PAJE) programme.
PAJE is primarily focused on training and supporting BAME individuals who wish to pursue a career within the judiciary, where BAME people are severely underrepresented.
Alongside the PAJE programme, we sponsor a targeted positive action initiative. The BAME ‘becoming a judge’ workshops have been running twice a year since 2010.
Aimed at black and Asian solicitors – who are under-represented in the judiciary – the workshops are led by an ex-JAC Assessor and facilitated by BAME judges. The workshops aim to provide practical advice on how to navigate the application and selection process.
Other key diversity schemes we are running run alongside our BAME research and judicial workshops include our social mobility ambassador scheme.
The scheme appoints members of the legal profession from non-traditional backgrounds to become role models to support their peers and act as inspiration to prospective solicitors who feel they do not fit the stereotype of ‘the lawyer’.
Our hope for this scheme is that we show, regardless of social background, the profession welcomes talent, tenacity and a strong work ethic.
Our Diversity Access Scheme also offers 10 students from low socioeconomic backgrounds full funding for their LPC fees, mentoring and work experience. Similarly to our SMA initiative, this is to make sure people are recruited into the profession due to talent and tenacity.
The Law Society and the solicitors’ profession strive to ensure access to justice, equality for all under the legal system and to promote the rule of law.
It’s an absolute priority that we promote diversity and inclusion in the profession, combat any instances of racism or prejudice in the sector and stand against injustice.