Disabled people in the legal profession are facing widespread discrimination, with outdated working practices and a failure to provide them with the support they need, according to early results from a ground-breaking piece of research.
The initial findings of the Legally Disabled? research project show that disabled people seeking jobs or working in the legal profession are “an untapped resource”.
They have often been attracted to a career in the law because of “a strong passion for human rights and fairness”, and their lived experience of disability has led to “strong ambition, tenacity, determination and excellent problem-solving skills”.
But positive experiences of “support, good attitudes and appropriate reasonable adjustments are a lottery”, say the researchers.
The early findings of the research have come from eight focus groups of disabled legal professionals, including judges, barristers and solicitors.
A “large proportion” of those who took part in the focus groups said they had faced disability discrimination.
The aims of the research, which is being conducted by Professor Debbie Foster, of Cardiff University Business School, and independent researcher Dr Natasha Hirst, are to explore the barriers to employment and career progression and examine ways in which they have been addressed successfully.
They then hope to identify ways in which the legal profession can become more inclusive and accessible for disabled people.