Westminster Legal Policy Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Diversity and inclusion in the legal profession - regulation, and practical approaches for recruitment and workplace culture, wellbeing and progression

Morning, Thursday, 10th December 2020


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online*** 

This conference will consider the way forward for improving diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.


The agenda:

  • Meeting regulatory requirements for diversity and inclusion
  • Practical approaches to developing a diverse legal sector
  • Improving workplace culture in legal services - mental wellbeing, workplace flexibility and support, and tackling harassment and misconduct
  • Recruitment and progression - attracting new lawyers from diverse backgrounds, the impact of the SQE, and transitioning from law schools to the workplace
  • Next steps for improving judicial diversity

Relevant developments and findings at a glance:

  • the Bar Survey Summary Findings July 2020, suggesting:
  • diversity and social mobility are likely to decline at the Bar without preventative measures in light of the pandemic
  • particular impact on barristers who are female, members of ethnic minorities, or state-educated, who are more likely to be in publicly-funded work and be primary carers for young children
  • Over 20 city law firms signing the Race Fairness Commitment, which aims to improve racial diversity among senior lawyers and uncover why ethnic minority solicitors leave firms earlier than their white counterparts
  • Diversity at the Bar - the most recent report from the BSB finding ethnic minority barristers accounting for around 8% of the QC population
  • progression at law firms - the SRA’s recent figures that 49% of lawyers were women but that fell to only 33% at partner level, with larger firms tended to have larger discrepancies
  • Regulatory performance: Performance assessment - the LSB’s most recent report indicating that legal regulators are too slow in understanding and tackling ongoing inequalities in the profession
  • Us Too? Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession - the International Bar Association’s findings in the global legal profession, with the majority of instances going unreported by victims
  • harassment - several high profile personal misconduct allegations being brought to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal
  • the Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division Resilience and wellbeing survey - finding in 2019 that respondents regularly felt stressed in their role, and calling for more support from their firms
  • the Law Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter - currently under review
  • the Diversity and Inclusion Charter - from the Institute of Paralegals for paralegal employers to commit to diversity and inclusion
  • the General Counsel for Diversity and Inclusion Statement - with the GLD being the first government department to be a signatory, alongside more than 100 law firms
  • Introduction of SQE: Monitoring and Maximising Diversity - the updated SRA-commissioned report finding that the SQE has the potential to lead to greater transparency in data collected on equality but with the need for consistency, and leadership by the Authority

The discussion in detail:

Practical approaches to improving legal D&I

  • inequality data - improving collection across the profession, filling evidence gaps, and addressing inconsistencies
  • tackling barriers - best practice on how to identify issues that hinder progress
  • recruitment - reviewing interview practice, undertaking unconscious bias training, implementing blind CVs, and sharing best practice in attracting talent and building inclusivity

Workplace culture

  • sexual harassment and misconduct - discussing effective strategies for reduction and prevention, as well as best practice, and reforms to HR claims and the handling of cases
  • flexible working - the impact of new arrangements a result of the pandemic on lawyers across the sector, following reports of increasingly loneliness and anxiety about health and job security, pressures to go into work, and instances of not being allowed to work from home
  • wellbeing - measures for addressing challenges to lawyers’ mental health being taken by firms

Legal education, recruitment and progression

  • the SQE - its potential impact on diversity and widening access to the profession and how it should be implemented, and attracting and developing talent
  • evidence of inequalities - why SQE pilots showed BAME candidates tended to perform worse than their white counterparts, and the option of SQE assessors undergoing unconscious bias training
  • direct recruitment - concerns that some top firms will continue recruiting directly from selective universities, undermining objectives to increase diversity in the profession through the SQE
  • costs - how to address the issue in order to widen access to the legal sector
  • progression - assessing opportunities for supporting and improving the transition from law school to the workplace

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Crown Prosecution Service; the Department for Transport Legal Advisors; the Department of Education; the Government Legal Department; HMRC Solicitor's Office & Legal Services; the Home Office and the MHCLG.


Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior officials from the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and other relevant Departments, senior representatives from law firms, mental health and race equality charities, universities, recruitment firms and all aspects of the justice system, as well as academics and reporters from the national and specialist media.


This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  •  information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  •  speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference



Speakers

Jane Malcolm

Executive Director, External and Corporate Affairs, Solicitors Regulation Authority

Amit Popat

Head of Equality and Access to Justice, Bar Standards Board

Vicky Purtill

Director, Authorisation and Supervision, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives

Stephanie Boyce

Deputy Vice-President, The Law Society

Dana Denis Smith

Founder, Next 100 Years Project, and CEO, Obelisk Support

Jane Hatton

Director, Evenbreak

Elizabeth Rimmer

Chief Executive, LawCare

Sam Mercer

Head of Policy: Equality & Diversity and Corporate Social Responsibility, The Bar Council

Rita Leat

CEO, Institute of Paralegals

Jo-Anne Pugh

Director of Programme Development, BPP University

Raphael Mokades

Founder and Director, Rare Recruitment

Tiernan Brady

Global Director of Inclusion, Clifford Chance

Angela Latta

Head of Performance and Oversight, Legal Services Board