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How is the legal sector addressing diversity?

There is a vast amount of work being done within the legal sector in order to address the issues surrounding diversity.

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

The SRA, is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion with steps being continually taken to ensure that the regulatory processes that they put into place is “consistent, fair and non-discriminatory”.

The SRA has recently delivered a number of high-profile projects which prominently feature EDI, for example the implementation of the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), their engagement with firms to clarify the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and to encourage reporting about sexual harassment in the work place, their biennial firm diversity data survey and programmes to promote disability and LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace.

Bar Standards Board (BSB)

The BSB which is the regulator of the Bar of England and Wales, have objectives to “encourage an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession” (The Legal Services Act 2007). It has published a 2020-2022 Equality and Diversity Strategy which sets out how the organisation will continue to encourage diversity within the profession and its own organisation.

Taking as an example the BSB’s work on improving ethnic diversity and equality within the profession, they created an advisory body called the Race Equality Taskforce in June 2019. The aim of this Taskforce is to provide advice on specific policies, activities and strategies that can aid in the improvement of race equality within the profession.

The Law Society

The Law Society is an independent professional body in England and Wales for solicitors and provides a range of support to enable their members to have high quality professional competence and is an integral part of the legal sector. The Law Society has also committed to inclusion. As such, they have various committees including the Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division (EMLD), the Lawyers with Disabilities Division, the LGBTQ+ Lawyers Division and the Women Lawyers Division.

Taking as an example the EMLD, their primary aim is to provide support to those in the legal profession who are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds. This is done by:

  • Creating a space for members to share their experiences
  • The identification of the issues that members of the BAME community face and identifying ways in which these obstacles can be addressed.
  • Providing support to ensure that the sector is more diverse and inclusive.

Activity

In addition to all the initiatives mentioned above, the Women in Law Pledge was launched in June 2019 by the Law Society in order to address gender inequality and make it a focus of conversation. The next step this week is a quiz. In order to be able to answer the questions in the quiz, please read the following article, as well as the FAQ’s about the pledge: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/policy-campaigns/articles/the-women-in-law-pledge/

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