Firms should reserve training contract places for disabled candidates and allow graduates to work part-time to improve access to the profession, the Law Society has said.
Speaking at a webinar on the effect of Covid-19 on disabled solicitors, the Law Society said disability is ‘often left behind’ other protected characteristics and HR teams need to actively increase the number of disabled lawyers within firms.
Chris Seel, diversity and inclusion adviser at the Law Society, said: ‘We are encouraging firms and organisations to reserve places for disabled people on their work experience and on their training [contracts] and qualifying work experience. The current position is so bad and so non-inclusive that it justifies that kind of action.’
Firms can choose whether to reserve spaces for disabled candidates and the Gazette understands that very few practices currently do so.
The Law Society also urged City firms to run part-time training contracts for disabled candidates. ‘With the big firms, very often it takes one or two of them to do something and then it gets taken up by the others,’ Seel said.
Research by Cardiff Business School found that over half of disabled solicitors and paralegals surveyed believed their career and promotion prospects were inferior to those of their non-disabled colleagues.
The study also found that lawyers are unlikely to disclose disabilities on job applications and those that did were disadvantaged when applying for training or employment.