Friday, October 15, 2010

Will There Be Diversity in the Legal Profession?



The Westminster-Legal Services Board workshop on diversity was a great success. Around 100 people attended the presentation of the new research commissioned by the Legal Services Board. The workshop was organized by the Law School's Centre for the Legal Profession and Legal Services. You can download the full report and summary from here.

Researchers Liz Duff and Lisa Webley from Westminster, Daniel Muzio and Jennifer Tomlinson from Leeds, Hilary Sommerlad from Leicester, and Anna Zimdars from Manchester presented in-depth, qualitative research that illustrated people's feelings about discrimination and diversity in the legal profession. It wasn't too depressing as Chris Kenny, CEO of the LSB, showed that trends were improving--it's just that we need to know more why the profession hasn't fully come to terms with the problems.

The presentation was followed by a discussion panel composed of David Pittaway QC of the Bar Council, Stephen Ward of the Law Society, Crispin Passmore of the LSB, and Andy Boon of the Law School.

Neil Rose reported on the research and conference at Legal Futures. He noted:
Launching the London conference, LSB chief executive Chris Kenny said diversity was a key LSB objective. “We believe passionately that unless you’ve got a diverse profession, a profession that looks like the society which it serves, actually you probably won’t have a fully effective profession either.”
Crispin Passmore, strategy director for the LSB, also wrote in the Guardian:
The LSB is working to increase transparency about the makeup of the legal workforce. We're considering requiring law firms and chambers to publish and report the findings of regular surveys of their workforces in order to shine a light on the diversity of the profession. Some law businesses will already reflect their local community. Others will rightly take credit for improving diversity.
 It's clear more work needs to be done in this area.
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