We were contacted by PhD researcher and tutor from the University of Dundee, Rachael Wallace, to invite our community to participate in important research. Rachael writes:

The Law Society of Scotland recorded the diversity figures for 2020/21 that at least 4% of the law profession in Scotland disclosed that they have a disability. While this is an increase on previous data, more work needs to be done to increase the number of people with disabilities in the Scottish law profession.  People with disabilities also need to be comfortable disclosing their disability or chronic illness to their employer without fear of discrimination. Disclosure is essential in order to create a culture where disabled solicitors can fully participate in the profession. Without disclosure, they are hiding who they really are and will not have the support to achieve their best. 

I am a PhD researcher and tutor from the University of Dundee. I have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair. I would like to interview disabled graduates and solicitors and those with chronic illnesses who are entering or developing and advancing a career within the Scottish legal profession. I am looking for a broad range of people for example students in their last year of study in their LLB or Diploma, solicitors, paralegals, advocates, and Judges.  The Interview will be conducted on Microsoft Teams for approximately 1 hour. The interview will cover key themes such as the participant’s experiences of the law profession culture towards disability, career progression, the enablers and barriers they have faced, their experience and knowledge of the Equality Act 2010 with a focus on reasonable adjustments.       

The Criterion    

  1. The participant must have a disability or chronic health condition. 
  2. The participant must live and work in Scotland.  
  3. The participant must have graduated in law from a Scottish University.  
  4. The participant must live and work in Scotland.  

It matters, because it is 11 years since the Equality Act 2010 came into force and this study examines whether the EA 2010 is working in the real world and critically, increasing the participation of disabled people in the workplace. It is important that disabled people can realise their employment rights and not only have a job but a career within the law the professions.

The EA 2010 was created to prevent and make discrimination illegal against people living with disabilities. Sadly, my interim results show that this is not the case, my qualitative data shows that many disabled graduates and solicitors face discrimination in the workplace both silent and overt. There are examples of good practice in law firms and organisations where disabled graduates and solicitors thrive and are supported to be really successful.

With the backdrop of the Paralympics and the launch of the We 15 campaign which aims to prevent and eliminate discrimination against disabled people worldwide. It is a great time conducting this research.  Anyone who would like more information or would like to participate can email me directly: r.z.wallace@dundee.ac.uk  

I will publish my findings next year and make recommendations regarding the reform of the EA 2010. Based on those findings I want to work with the law firms and the Law Society of Scotland to take forward those recommendations and widen access to the Scottish law profession for disabled graduates and try to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities in the law profession. If firms are interested in working with me on this project, then contact me at the above email address.

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