Oct 23, 2021

Written By Thomas Cserep

What law firm diversity initiatives are there?

Oct 23, 2021

Written By Thomas Cserep

The legal industry is often seen as an exclusive sector, accessible only to those from privileged backgrounds. However, in conjunction with external organisations, law firms are taking steps to support people from underrepresented groups to become solicitors.

The importance of diversity 

Law firms are better able to meet the needs of the communities they serve if they can draw on the different perspectives that come from a diverse workforce. 

Companies that employ solicitors from a range of different backgrounds are not only able to do a good job for a diverse client base, but also play a part in improving representation: people are more likely to feel welcome in an industry if they see others like them in it. 

 

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Quotas for people from underrepresented backgrounds

In order to be more representative of the UK’s society and the clients they serve, many law firms have been introducing a quota system in their application processes. This means that for certain positions, people from diverse backgrounds are prioritised and some places are reserved for diversity applicants. 

A quotas system is a great way for law firms to quickly and efficiently hire employees from underrepresented groups and help the legal industry become more inclusive. However, in order for this to work, firms have to make sure that solicitors are properly supported throughout their time at the company. 

 

Creating a welcoming & supportive environment

Law firms try to accommodate workers from underrepresented backgrounds by meeting their needs and establishing an inclusive company culture. Diversity workshops and advocating discrimination awareness can play a part in this, as well as developing codes of conduct to tackle discriminatory issues. 

Firms also offer flexible schedules, allowing individuals with other personal commitments - such as childcare duties – to continue their careers as lawyers. 

A welcoming environment and company culture help build community and team spirit, which is good for employees as well as business. Studies show that law firms with satisfied employees perform better than those that are unable to instill that collective feeling. 

 

Working with external organisations

Many law firms collaborate with external groups to help diversify the industry, such as the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme, providing those from underrepresented backgrounds with financial support, work experience and a mentor. 

Meanwhile, Aspiring Solicitors works with firms to increase diversity in the legal sector. From mentoring graduates to hosting law events for students, they hope to inspire individuals from underrepresented groups to pursue a career in law, providing support through the application process.

 

There are also groups that support solicitors from particular backgrounds, such as the Black Solicitors Network, which advocates for equality of access for black solicitors, amplifying their voices within the industry 

Other groups, such as the Social Mobility Organisation and The Sutton Trust’s PRIME programme provide work experience placements in law firms for state school students from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

By cooperating with these kinds of organisations, law firms are playing a vital role in encouraging people from diverse groups to consider legal careers and support them throughout their time in the industry. 

 

These are just some of the initiatives run by law firms and organisations to help diversify the legal sector. If you think you could benefit from support like this, do check out some of the initiatives out there to help you find your place in law. 

 

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Diversity