Law society offers paid work experience for black interns in a nod to diversity initiative

Black interns are being offered paid internships as part of an initiative that aims to be inclusive of black aspiring lawyers. 

The #10,000BlackInterns campaign aims to create a gateway for black men and women to join the legal sector in what the Law Society is calling a ‘culture change’. A total of 11 interns have started their six week paid internship at the society, as part of the organisation’s continued participation in the initiative.

The scheme aims to offer paid work experience for young black people across almost forty sectors which includes the law and created a ‘sustainable cycle of mentorship and sponsorship.

The campaign to offer black interns a place in British industries has been backed by politicians and top London firms. Law firm Linklaters was one of the first to partake in the scheme which aims to place 2,000 black interns in companies in the UK annually over the next five years. The programme has been backed by the CBI employers group and the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The initiative was kickstarted after concerns were raised by government and industry groups about the lack of progress in bringing through black executives into senior positions across FTSE boardrooms and professional industries such as law.

According to the Law Society’s 2022 Annual Statistics Report, only 2.5% of all solicitors with practising certificates identified as Black, Black British, Caribbean or African.

The Financial Times reported that the scheme was the thinktank of Dawid Konotey-Ahulu, a co-founder of pensions advisory group Redington; Jonathan Sorrell, president of asset manager Capstone Investment Advisors; Michael Barrington-Hibbert, founder of recruiter Barrington Hibbert Associates; and Wol Kolade, managing partner of private equity firm Livingbridge.

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: “I am delighted to welcome eleven young people to the Law Society. I hope their internships will provide building blocks for their future and I look forward to working with them.

“In the two years that the Law Society has taken part in the scheme, we have benefitted enormously from the contribution of the interns who have joined us.

“The interns made a positive contribution to many areas of the business. They have been highly motivated, brought fresh perspectives and created a positive feeling around the organisation.

“I look forward to working with our interns as they embark on an exciting programme, including visits to the Royal Courts of Justice and the Inner Temple, alongside developing key professional skills they can take forward in their careers.”

There is evidence to suggest that diversity in the profession varies greatly by the size of the firm and at different levels within the profession.

“The profession must continue to reflect on how we can welcome new voices and experiences into our businesses and how we can retain and progress them.

“It is imperative we talk openly and honestly to ensure we are creating a culture change in the organisations we work in, not just pursuing our own success.”

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