Thursday, October 07, 2010

Diversity Workshop at Westminster 13 October--You Are Invited


A while back I wrote about my colleagues' research project on diversity in the legal profession for the Legal Services Board (LSB). At last that research is completed. A multi-faceted team from the Universities of Westminster, Leeds, and Leicester have submitted their report to the LSB.

We, at Westminster, are holding a seminar/workshop for the launch of the report. Here's a brief clip of what to expect:
The seminar is being held to launch a new research report commissioned by the Legal Services Board on diversity in the legal profession. There have been dramatic changes in the legal profession in the last 20 years. In 2008-09 women made up 46% of practising solicitors and 60% of entrants to the profession. For the Bar the figures were 34% (women barristers) and 50% (women entrants). In the case of black and minority ethnic lawyers there has been a 244% increase in their numbers in the ten years between 1996 and 2006. Despite these increases the legal profession is still dominated by white males. There is a greater division with white lawyers being over-represented in City law firms and at the Bar, while BME lawyers are found in greater numbers in smaller High Street law firms.

The research examines the causes for these differences, their persistence and what strategies are available to change cultures and expectations. Despite the implementation of procedures meant to neutralize discrimination, they are easily bypassed. Interviewers raise inappropriate questions about ethnicity, gender, and background. For those in the profession work was allocated unfairly and to question this was deprecated.

The biggest obstacle was the culture of informality that made it difficult for people to raise problems or question established ways of working. Moreover, racial stereotyping was pervasive.

Even though many law firms are trying hard to counter these inequities, the majority still abide by them.
(thanks to idsgn.org)

On October 13 the University of Westminster and the Legal Services Board are hosting a workshop/seminar to launch the report and discuss it.

The research team--Liz Duff (Westminster), Daniel Muzio (Leeds), Hilary Sommerlad (Leicester), Jenny Tomlinson (Leeds), Lisa Webley (Westminster), along with Anna Zimdars (Manchester)--will present their findings.

This will be followed by a panel discussion and questions with David Pittaway QC (Bar Council), Pat Corcoran and Stephen Ward (Law Society), Crispin Passmore (Legal Services Board) and Andy Boon (Westminster). I will be moderating.

It should be a lively and intriguing time. You are all invited.

DATE: October 13
TIME: 1500--1800
PLACE: Fyvie Hall, University of Westminster, 309 Regent St, London W1B 2UW (Streetmap link)

(thanks to chrisjfry)

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