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SRA disability inclusion survey sets out good practice in legal profession

1603/2020

An SRA survey on disability has found that many people working in the legal profession are still reluctant to discuss their needs with employers.

A survey of 3,000 legal firms also found examples of specific initiatives and approaches within individual firms, which are delivering positive outcomes for employees and clients alike.

“According to our most recent statistics, three per cent of solicitors currently declare they have a disability – a figure virtually unchanged in the last ten years,” said the SRA.

“This compares to figures released by the Government which estimate that thirteen per cent of the overall workforce in the UK have a disability.”

Under reporting disability to employers involved concern that declaring a disability might suggest a lower level of competency, or there might be a lack of opportunities for staff to request reasonable adjustments within a supportive environment – as well as legal firms not having policies, practices and procedures in place to help disabled staff. 

Good practice examples within the report focused on seven key areas – including culture, leadership, recruitment and making reasonable adjustments.

Under each area the report provides general advice, top tips and case study examples from specific named firms.

SRA Chief Executive Paul Philip said: 

“It is important that people who need legal services have access to a profession that is diverse and inclusive.

“We know that diverse businesses are better businesses, so wanted to find out more about what lies behind the apparent under-declaration of disabilities in the legal workforce.

“Our new report also looks at what firms can do to promote a much more disability inclusive working environment, highlighting best practice.”

As well as the 3,000 law firms surveyed about their policies and practices, the SRA also engaged directly with disability experts and disabled solicitors – and also conducted a review of existing published research on the topic of disability in the workplace.

The report Promoting disability inclusion in law firms – setting out good practice is available online.

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