The OPEN Legal Sector Careers event took place on 11 January 2011.
Trainees, partners and recruiters from Linklaters, Hogan Lovells, Clifford Chance, Freshfields and Allen & Overy came to meet talented disabled students and graduates aspiring to a career in law. Those selected to attend this prestigious event were given unique opportunities to meet their future employers and to ask searching questions about disability and recruitment in their organisations.
Caroline Lindner of Allen & Overy welcomed the assembly and introduced Avril Martindale, Partner at Freshfields, who spoke about the path to becoming a lawyer, the key skills and attitudes for success and the importance of diversity within the legal profession.
This was followed by six ten-minute rounds of talks by representatives of the law firms, who rotated around the room speaking and answering questions about their work and personal route into law.
After lunch, motivational speaker Jim Harvey delivered a Personal Impact FasterClass, demonstrating the importance self-awareness, positivity and confidence at interview. Helen Cooke, Disability and Recruitment Expert ran a training session for the employers on the subject of building disability confidence followed by a presentation for all attendees on ‘Requesting and Implementing Adjustments: A two-way process’.
The afternoon continued with a hugely informative panel session featuring experts from across law and disability. Helen Cooke was joined by Caroline Rawes from Linklaters’ recruitment, Giles Hutt, Head of Hogan Lovells’ Disability Network, Husnara Begum, former lawyer and Editor of ‘Lawyer 2B’ magazine and Jamile Ferreira, lawyer at Freshfields. Several members of the panel were able to share their own experiences of having a disability within the legal profession.
The event concluded with a drinks and canapés networking reception.
Feedback from the law firms and the student attendees has been overwhelmingly positive.
Employers felt they had gained new insight into disabled applicants’ aspirations and needs and valued one-to-one conversations with the delegates:
Open was a very important event for Allen & Overy, and the legal sector, to be involved in. As an employer, we have gained greater knowledge and confidence about disabilities, and we look forward to being involved in the next Open event so that we can continue to meet individuals seriously considering a career in law – Caroline Lindner, Allen & Overy
Students said the event had made them feel valued and respected, enthused about law and inspired to get stuck in to their applications:
"I used to think there was no point applying, but after this event I’m inspired to finally send off the applications I’ve been working on all this time." – Whitney Joseph
"Today I feel like an ordinary person. I don’t have to pretend to be anything. I feel I’ve been treated as an equal and that I actually have a chance." – Julia Horn
"Jim (motivational speaker) was brilliant. I enjoyed (...)hearing the panel talk about their own experiences, which I think helped people to get over their worry that firms won’t take them seriously." – Mark Avery
"The representatives (...) demonstrated that they really ‘meant it’ in their wish to attract those best disabled applicants who met their formal competency requirements. It was very motivating to understand that the recruitment process encouraged a ‘level playing field’ for disabled candidates like me." – Shibley Rahman
"I found the whole day very inspiring and it has been a huge boost to my confidence. I finally feel ready to start the rather daunting law application process and I hope these kind of events will become a permanent fixture." – Jennifer Kimber