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Law Society announces new plans to improve equality and diversity in England and Wales

10 February 2012

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The Law Society of England and Wales has announced that further measures are needed to accelerate the rate of progress towards equality of opportunity, greater diversity of the profession and inclusive working practices.

Over the next four years, it intends to influence those who shape the business environment in which solicitors operate, as well as to work with regulators to support mechanisms that promote and monitor compliance, equality of opportunity and respect for diversity.

The society has pledged to measure equality and diversity against other sectors and law practices. It has also committed to research trends in the legal profession and the experience of members in achieving equality and diversity.

The society intends to increase its direct engagement with minority solicitors through the delivery of a career barriers action plan and the establishment of dedicated divisions for minority and female lawyers later this year.

This objective, carried over from the Law Society’s 2009-2011 equality and diversity framework, remains despite the fact that “networks [were] not established due to lack of employee interest thus far,” according to Annex 2 of its 2012-2015 framework.

The society’s 2012-2015 framework encompasses the vision, objectives and actions for the professional body, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Legal Complaints Service.

The announcement coincides with controversial suggestions by prime minister David Cameron that British companies should either increase female representation on boards or face quotas of around 30 per cent.

“We need to question whether quotas will result in women acquiring board level positions because they are qualified for the job and not to simply satisfy a box-ticking exercise,” says Thomas Eggar associate Danielle McCormick.

“The importance of this is enormous, so as to prevent boards from being filled with women who merely have notional roles as opposed to having a real voice or opportunity to positively impact the strategy and day-to-day running of a business.”



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