Saluting our Sisters: celebrating Black History Month 2023
Throughout October, we’re highlighting the role black women solicitors have had in shaping history, inspiring change and building communities.
Law Society president Lubna Shuja said: “I am delighted to celebrate Black History Month with my colleagues.
“The theme is pertinent as the profession celebrated 100 years of women in the law at the end of last year and we are now looking to shape the future of our profession. “
Over the years, many black women have made their mark on the legal profession, including:
- I. Stephanie Boyce who made history as the first black president of the Law Society in 2021
- Dr Sandie Okoro, the first black woman to hold the role of senior vice president and general counsel at the World Bank
- Margaret Obi, who was appointed Deputy High Court Judge in 2018
- Grace Ononiwu CBE, director of legal services at the Crown Prosecution Service and the first Afro-Caribbean chief Crown prosecutor
- Dr Funke Abimbola MBE, award-winning diversity, equality and inclusion leader
“These black women are just a few pioneers in our profession,” Lubna said. “There are many more black solicitors who continue to make an impact.”
Listening, learning and reflecting
Throughout Black History Month, we’ll be listening to our colleagues’ stories to understand their journeys into law and learn about their role in inspiring change.
We’ll also be reflecting on what more we can do to make sure the profession reflects the society it serves, from the high street up to the high court.
Only 1% of partners in large firms are black, and retention of black solicitors is increasingly low.
Innovation flourishes when people are welcomed, encouraged and supported, that’s why we’re keen to accelerate the retention and progression of black talent to senior levels.
Looking to the future
We’ve continued to take part in the #10000BlackInterns initiative, which offers paid work experience for young black people and creates a sustainable cycle of mentorship and sponsorship.
Lubna Shuja concluded: “I had the great pleasure of working with our seven interns and the Law Society benefitted enormously from their contributions.
“I wholeheartedly encourage the profession to take part in this and similar initiatives. By welcoming diverse voices and experiences into our firms and businesses, we can better serve our clients and society.
“I hope the #10000BlackInterns and similar initiatives will give black men and women opportunities to experience working in the profession first hand, and that it will in turn lead to offers of employment and a more diverse legal profession.”