Attracting disabled people to the legal profession

In the second of a four-part series focusing on disability and legal services, Jane Hatton from Evenbreak explains the positive steps employers can take to encourage and support disabled job applicants.

We have seen that there are many benefits to the legal profession of employing disabled people at all levels, including drawing from a larger pool of talent, engaging with different views and perspectives, avoiding “groupthink”, and attracting additional skills around innovation, creativity, resilience, problem solving and others.

Often disabled graduates and other candidates will assume that they will be discriminated against. Research suggests that disabled law students perceive their disability will have a strong negative impact on their likelihood of success in gaining a position within the legal profession (often a perception borne out in practice). This requires law firms to work hard to overcome this perception, and to encourage talented disabled people to apply for relevant roles.

There are a number of ways of establishing credibility and giving confidence to potential disabled applicants. You can use positive action by advertising career opportunities (work experience, internships and permanent roles) in disability journals and specialist disability job boards. Gaining externally validated accreditations, such as becoming a Disability Confident Leader, gaining the Disability Standard or becoming Clear Assured can also help. Entering awards, such as the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative (RIDI) Awards can also help to publicise the inclusion and accessibility you offer and position you as an inclusive employer of choice.

You might want to consider having a page on your website which talks about the workplace adjustments and flexible working options you offer, maybe including some case studies about talented disabled people you have employed.

This is an instance where success breeds success. The more disabled people you employ, the greater your learning and the more disabled people you will be able to attract. Employing the first disabled employee is often the hardest – and most rewarding – step.


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