Tola Hassan, BPP University Law Student, discusses diversity in the law profession
In light of the Oscars scandal in February, it makes you think; if such a public profession as acting can face a lack of diversity in the twenty-first century, then what other types of professions are dealing with the same issue.
There was not a single African-American nomination this year and the Oscars received an enormous amount of backlash. From the people of Twitter creating different hashtags, to even celebrities threatening to boycott the event, as the talents of those ethnic minorities failed to be recognised.
As a student, I don’t think that the colour of my skin, ethnic background, disability, gender or sexuality should hinder my pursuit of a career in Law. The fact of the matter is that the legal profession could be seen as showing a resistance to becoming more flexible and inclusive to a more diverse range of people and perhaps consequently accentuates the flaws in the judicial appointment process.
It is no secret that a majority of the law profession is filled with white, publicly educated men. The lack of representation for BAME (Black And Minority Ethnic) lawyers is a clear example of how the lack of diversity derives from schools then to universities. The lack of diversity in the profession is not only evident in BAME lawyers but also female lawyers and lawyers with disabilities.
As a BAME student, inclusion is something that is important for a successful university experience. I find that at BPP, having people from all different background, ethnic groups, race and gender in the same classes as me allows me to grow as a student by adapting and learning from my fellow peers. This way, as a collective, we work on each other weakness subconsciously, because what I think being a lawyer is about is that the clients need to be able to relate to you.
But some progress has been made to eliminate the lack of diversity, more and more women are being employed into senior roles, for example, there is now a female Supreme Court Justice (Baroness Hale) and eight females appointed to the Court of Appeal, as opposed to the small amount of three women in 2013. Needless to say the progress is moving very slowly. Till today, there are 0 percent of BAME Justices in the Supreme Court and in the Court of Appeal and an unchanging 7% of BAME Judges through other Courts and Tribunals.
So is there really any hope for the minorities? I’d like to think there is. The special thing about BBP is that it understands inclusion. As a BPP student, I have come across a wide range of schemes available for students from all different backgrounds, such as RPC Access to Law Programme, Addleshaw Goddard and BPP Law School Legal Access Scheme and Open to Law (which helps students with disabilities). These schemes open up opportunity and pave the way for the Law profession to becoming more diverse.
But as much as these schemes are opening up opportunities, without an increase in the number of BAME lawyers, the issue of lack of diversity in the legal profession will continue to be centre of debate.
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