Groundbreaking new research

September 2017 marked the launch of an exciting new research project, “Legally Disabled? The career experiences of disabled people in the legal profession in England & Wales: developing future strategies.”

Prof. Debbie Foster of Cardiff University and independent researcher and photojournalist Dr Natasha Hirst undertook this research, the first of it’s kind. The Lawyers with Disabilities Division (Law Society) have been key partners in the development of the project which aims to co-produce research with disabled legal professionals. We are continuing to seek the involvement of other groups across the legal profession.

Funded by the Disability Research into Independent Living and Learning (DRILL) programme, the research investigated the barriers and solutions for disabled people across the legal profession.

Information sharing with networks, firms and organisations

The project was set to conclude in May 2020 but due to the Covid19 pandemic, we continued to deliver roundtable events online to support organisations to learn about the research and discuss the recommendations.

If your network or organisation wishes to discuss the findings and how they can be implemented to improve disability inclusion, please get in touch with lead researcher, Prof Debbie Foster on FosterD1@cardiff.ac.uk

2020 reports published

We launched our research findings and recommendations on the 24th January 2020 at the British Academy in London. A report of conference will be published in due course. Thank you to all of our speakers and everyone who attended to make the day such a great success.

Our follow-up research, launched online on the 2nd November 2020, explores how disabled lawyers have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. We worked in coproduction with the Lawyers with Disabilities Division of The Law Society on the research. Our findings show that increased remote working and more flexibility with reasonable adjustments could make the legal profession more accessible.

Click here for more information and links to the report.

2018 – 2019 Interview and survey stages

Eight focus groups took place early in 2018 in London, Manchester, Cardiff and Birmingham with disabled legal professionals including paralegals, solicitors, barristers, judges, trainees and retirees.

The second stage of the project consisted of 55 one to one interviews. These explored individual experiences in more depth. Analysis of the interviews has been completed, drawing out the key research themes.

Survey stage

Our thanks to all who participated in and helped to promote research our two questionnaires: one for disabled people training for or working as Barristers and a second for disabled people training for or working as solicitors or paralegals. This also included those who have since left these roles in the profession.

We received almost 300 responses from people across the profession which enables us to set the qualitative findings against a robust quantitative dataset to show a fuller picture of the experiences of disabled people throughout the profession.