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More diversity needed in UK law firms, says award winner

Posted by: Laurence Simons 23/02/15

A Muslim partner of a law firm in Yorkshire has said the British legal profession needs to do more to increase diversity.Speaking to the Yorkshire post, winner of the Services to Law prize at the British Muslim Awards Bilkis Mahmood told the Yorkshire Post there is a "massive under-representation" of ethnic minorities in law.


Ms Mahmood, a senior partner at Leeds-based Blackstone Law, said: “In the legal profession there’s a lack of opportunity and recognition. My own personal view is although the Law Society is encouraging law firms to have a diversity policy, I don’t feel it’s efficient.

"There is still a bottleneck and very few people are actually appointed, there is a firm belief that law is a traditionally male, white orientated profession."

Although change is coming, it is doing so "very slowly", she stated.

Ms Mahmood, however, has a plan. She has set up a non-profit section of the firm to give contracts to young trainees from ethnic minority backgrounds to give them a toehold in the profession.

Her own story was one of serious determination, having got married soon after passing her A levels and having three children before returning to her law studies and fulfilling an ambition her father had for her to practise law - although he sadly passed away during her finals in 2003.

Many firms will be keen on taking an enlightened view of having a more diverse workforce - either through taking extra steps to ensure they give everyone a fair chance regardless of background or by taking specific steps to bring in more minorities to help make the staff demographic more representative of those they represent.

That is something skilled recruitment agencies can help a huge amount with, but the approach has to begin with firms taking the mindset that they want to make progress and a willingness to take all reasonable steps to achieve such goals.

Blackstone Law was founded in 2010, with Ms Mahmood establishing it with her colleagues after previously working with Leeds City Council, where she set up a solicitor training programme.