– Areej Arif
Diversity has unquestionably become a fundamental factor in the legal profession today. With the industry traditionally occupying a white male-dominated majority, especially in managerial roles, the field has now decided to establish a reconstruction in the 21st century. Despite the welcoming approach to an engaging new agenda, this buzzing factor remains debatable. The progression towards achieving a successful picture remains slow. This has been clearly evident by a considerable percentage of disadvantaged students still being exposed to a struggling journey in affording the extortionate expenses of law school worldwide. The top positions on the legal ladder on the other hand, remain to be occupied by only a small percentage of ethnic minorities. The success of diversity in the legal profession thus remains incomplete.
Diversity in the workplace
The lack of diversity has certainly placed the epicentres of the legal industry around the world on a race to become ethnically diversified workplaces. This perhaps is because of the importance the word ‘diversity’ plays in the legal profession. On the other hand, the race to attain a diverse title may also be because of the firm’s inclusive ambition to welcome more skilful and talented people around the world. However, diversity in the legal profession remains essential for the legal industry. It is something that promotes acceptance and tolerance amongst colleagues and generally creates a positive vibe in the workplace.
A lack of diversity makes it extremely hard for a firm to collate its strengths and weaknesses and collaborate as a team. This is because of its inability to tolerate a positive change within the firm, which could in fact promote its values and popularity on a wider scale. The acceleration of its popularity can also be achieved when clients begin to feel comfortable with consulting lawyers from a range of backgrounds, willing to change their lives. Overall, diversity places a significant part in the flourishing, innovation and success of a law firm because it is something that brings lawyers and clients from different ethnicities to come together and make that firm a proud and better place to work at.
The ‘Aspiring Solicitors’ mentoring scheme
Despite the fragile progression of multiculturalism in the legal profession, there has certainly been an advance increase of mentoring schemes, offering practical application advice to BAME candidates in order to help them secure training contracts and pupillages. Aspiring Solicitors, for instance, has been a leading successful mentoring programme that has offered advice to thousands of ambitious candidates every year. With their amazing range of programmes such as AS First and AS Aspire, these schemes have made thousands of aspiring solicitors battle the competitive application processes, and secure vacation schemes and training contracts at popular city law firms. Furthermore, the programme’s partnership with magic circle law and business firms have allowed them to create legal work experience and mentoring opportunities for aspiring solicitors. Their specific eligibility criteria that is exclusive to BAME candidates has certainly aimed to level up diversity in law firms.
It is with no doubt that diversity in the legal profession is steady and further work needs to be done in order for magic circle firms, specifically, to publish a proud statistical picture of their diversity progression. However, despite the incompletion, mentoring schemes have unquestionably opened the door of hope for aspiring solicitors as well as associates and partners from minority ethnic backgrounds to be welcomed on the top positions of the legal ladder. As a result of this successful initiative, there now needs to be an expansion in the establishment of such mentoring schemes in order to deliver a positive impact for the future of the legal profession.