Westminster Legal Policy Forum

Next steps for improving diversity and inclusion in the legal sector

Morning, Thursday, 13th June 2019

Central London


This conference will consider the way forward for improving diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, including embedding good practice and policy options going forward.

The seminar is timed to follow the publication of new diversity data in the legal sector by the Solicitors Regulation Authority that will look at the age, gender, ethnicity, education, sexual orientation of lawyers. Delegates will consider how best to collate, analyse and use this data effectively to improve diversity in the sector.

It also comes with the Legal Services Board publishing their assessment of the progress by regulators on diversity - which found improvement against criteria such diversity analysis, collaboration with stakeholders and regulatory development, but identified several areas where more is needed, such as internal progression and representation of certain groups. Delegates will discuss the role of the regulators and how they monitor the progress of law firms in these areas - as well as current progress in the sector. 

Delegates will look at the potential impact on diversity and widening access to the profession of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), scheduled for implementation in Autumn 2021, and how it should be implemented. We also expect discussion on the cost of training and the role of policies such as law apprenticeships and ‘earn as you learn’ schemes.

The agenda will also bring out latest thinking on preventing harassment and bullying in the workplace - with LawCare receiving its highest ever number of helpline calls from lawyers in 2018 and as the SRA considers incorporating changes relevant to sexual harassment into its new code of conduct for law firms in early 2019.

Further sessions will focus on the workplace culture in the legal sector and how law firms can provide better mental health support and improve staff well-being, as well as the  impact of legal technology on flexibility and working practices.

The conference is also scheduled to follow the publication of the initial phase of the Law Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter and as the Bar Standards Board publishes its research into pupillage recruitment practices.

Delegates will discuss practical approaches to supporting diversity such as reviewing interview practice, undertaking unconscious bias training and implementing blind CVs, as well as sharing best practice in attracting talent and building inclusivity. 

Following calls from the President of the Supreme Court to improve diversity in the judiciary, there will also be discussion on the current state of judicial appointments, progress following the Lammy Review which recommended reforms to the Judicial Appointments Committee, and the initial results of policies such as the Pre-Application Judicial Education scheme, launching in Spring 2019. 

Keynote Speakers

Amit Popat

Head of Equality and Access to Justice, Bar Standards Board

Helen Whiteman

Chief Executive Officer, CILEx Regulation

Keynote Speakers

Jemima Coleman

Board Member, Legal Services Board

Jane Malcolm

Executive Director, External and Corporate Affairs, Solicitors Regulation Authority

Amit Popat

Head of Equality and Access to Justice, Bar Standards Board

Helen Whiteman

Chief Executive Officer, CILEx Regulation


Tamara Oppenheimer

Barrister and Equality and Diversity Officer, Fountain Court Chambers

Hugh Anderson McKnight

Director, Learning and Development, Central Law Training

Jonathan Bond

Director of HR and Learning, Pinsent Masons

Paul McFarlane

Partner, Employment, Pensions and Immigration, Weightmans and Director, Black Solicitors Network

Jane Hatton

Founder and Director, EvenBreak

Elizabeth Rimmer

Chief Executive Officer, LawCare

Senior speaker confirmed from the Legal Services Consumer Panel