After the success of the launch in April, the second EmployAbility in Law event took place in November 2014. Hosted by Herbert Smith Freehills and supported by Reed Smith, Baker & McKenzie, Clifford Chance, Olswang, Charles Russell Speechlys and Mayer Brown; this unique initiative is designed to improve the employability and career opportunities for disabled students and graduates wishing to pursue a career in law. EmployAbility is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to assisting students and graduates with all disabilities, including dyslexia or long term health conditions, into employment.
Over 40 high calibre candidates attended and around 35 representatives from different law firms. The event kicked off with a welcome speech from Tab Ahmad, EmployAbility’s founder, followed up by introductory speeches from the host and selected partner firms.
Dan Hudson from Herbert Smith Freehills emphasised the firm’s commitment to treating disabled employees fairly and ensuring that individuals have the opportunity to perform to the best of their ability. Kevan Skelton of Reed Smith showed how disability and diversity was an increasing priority for the firm in relation to attracting and retaining the best talent and spoke about the foundation of their disability task force. Katharine Bansbury of Olswang closed the speeches with an example of how the firm works to prevent unconscious bias amongst its staff. The firms’ inclusivity was welcomed by the attendees:
“I really want to be a lawyer and wanted to breakdown my insecurities by hearing first hand aims of inclusion” — Law Graduate, Reading
“It was helpful to identify…which firms do truly support and encourage talented disabled applicants.” — LLB Student, London
Herbert Smith Freehill’s graduate recruiters then led the next session, providing guidance and tips on the graduate recruitment application process. The attendees were told about key skills and competencies sought by firms but also provided with a practical exercise in the form of critiquing completed application forms as part of the presentations. This was followed by a session on when and how to disclose a disability, led by EmployAbility.
Q+A panel discussions then commenced, offering attendees the opportunity to ask questions about life as a lawyer in the City and disability in the workplace. Attendees found these interactive sessions particularly useful as they provide an open dialogue between employees and candidates about legal life and the impact of disability in this kind of work environment:
“It’s helpful to hear from trainees and partners who have gone through the same process and have had disabilities” — LLB Student, LSE
The event closed with a networking and drinks session to enable all attendees to share their thoughts and speak to representatives of the different firms. The event was a great success, with many comments on how useful it was for attendees and even made the news section of The Lex 100!
“Such an interesting event and the first of its kind I’ve attended – thank you!””
“I thoroughly enjoyed every session – absolutely spot on. Thank you!””
“Thank you so much. Fantastic and informative!”
“I think the helpfulness and willing ability of representatives to speak to us and represent them in this light was refreshing”
Thank you to Herbert Smith Freehills for hosting and also to Reed Smith, Baker & McKenzie, Clifford Chance, Olswang, CharlesRussell Speechlys and Mayer Brown for supporting and contributing to the success of this exciting opportunity for talented disabled students and graduates. Our next EmployAbility in Law event will take place later in 2015.
Disabled and/or dyslexic students and graduates interested in Law or similar events should register with EmployAbility to stay up-to-date with our opportunities.
Law firms interested in taking part in EmployAbility in Law 2015 please contact Kristina Adey-Davies on telephone: +44 7771 366245 or email Kristina.firstname.lastname@example.org.