With thanks to Isabel Baylis for this guest blog. Isabel is the Equality and Diversity Manager at Matrix Chambers.
An expert panel of barristers and recruiters with disabilities came together to answer questions and offer advice to disabled applicants at the Bar Council’s ‘Applicants with a Disability’ Seminar at the National Pupillage Fair on 27th October 2018.
Below are their top tips in response to questions asked by an audience of disabled law students:
We have been asked to promote this free seminar – if you have an interest in disability within the legal profession, then this will be a timely and relevant event to attend.
The invisible impairments in the workplace event has been designed to support solicitors, HR and D&I practitioners. This event looks at the varying experiences of members of the profession who live with invisible/hidden impairments. We will also be discussing conditions such as cancer that have been acquired during a solicitors working career and the ways in which employers can be better equipped to support an employee with an invisible impairment.
Top tips on how to discuss your disability in the workplace
Learn how to support an employee with a hidden disability
Gain first hand insight of the experiences of solicitors with hidden disabilities.
17:00 – 17:30 Registration and refreshments
17:30 – 17:40 Welcome and introductions
17:40 – 18:50 Panel session Vanessa Forster, British Council legal team and LDD committee member Robert Hunter, partner, Edmonds Marshall McMahon and LDD committee member
Caroline Milton, Macmillan at work delivery manager, Macmillan Cancer Support
In a career that spans over 30 years in the City, Robert Hunter has been a partner in both a magic circle law firm, and a boutique fraud specialist firm. He has conducted advocacy in fraud and trust cases at all stages in the proceedings, including carrying out cross examination at trial. Robert is profoundly deaf, having suffered from progressive hearing loss since his early teens.
Together with Kayleigh Farmer and Kate Rees-Doherty, Robert founded City Disabilities, a charity offering mentoring and advice to students and professionals who are disabled or have long-term health conditions. City Disabilities also works with employers and professional bodies to raise awareness and improve best practice, including organising training, speakers and events.
We are exploring the experiences of disabled people and people with impairments or health conditions (including mental health) working in the legal profession. We seek to make the research as representative as possible. You may or may not consider yourself to be disabled but take a look at our page explaining different definitions of disability and see whether the research could apply to you.
The lists below are not exhaustive, if in doubt about whether your experiences or career fits our research, please get in touch!
This research includes:
Those who are qualified but unemployed
Lawyers who were once employed in the legal profession but have since left (and during the time employed, were disabled)
There are a number of key stages to the development of the research, all of which will happen in equal partnership (co-production) with disabled legal professionals.
The project has established a Research Reference Group consisting of only disabled legal professionals and the two key researchers. This group supports the researchers with designing and delivering the research. Data has been collected through a number of focus groups and we will shortly begin one to one interviews. When analysis of the interviews is complete we will distribute a large-scale survey.At all stages, the aim is for disabled people to lead the way.
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 and Dr Natasha Hirst formally launched the “Legally Disabled” research project at the September executive meeting of the Lawyers with Disabilities Division (LDD) at the Law Society in London.
The project has been given huge support and the great enthusiasm of project partners at the LDD has helped the project get off to the best possible start.
The research is funded by the DRILL Programme (Disability Research into Independent Living and Learning), a four nations project providing grants across the UK for research designed and delivered in co-production between disabled people and academics or researchers.
With Cardiff University as the lead on this 18-month project, all researchers on the project are disabled people and the key project partner, the LDD, consists of disabled lawyers. The research will be investigating the barriers and solutions for disabled people across the legal profession.
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.