The Law Society of England and Wales has published guidance to support disabled students through their studies and in the workplace. The published guidance was released on the first day of Disability History Month, which runs from 16th November to 16th December.
The guidance outlines the variety of support available to disabled students throughout their education and subsequent recruitment and working life in the legal profession, this includes support during the Solicitors Qualifying Exams (SQE), at teaching institution, the recruitment process and in the workplace.
The guidance stipulates that educational institutions are required to provide reasonable adjustments for students under the Equality Act (and that these reasonable adjustments are also for employees as well). The adjustments may include:
- Providing materials in a range of formats, with particular emphasis on the value of using the web.
- Timetabling and room provision to suit students’ requirements.
- Special arrangements for exams and assignments such as extra time, a scribe or specialist equipment.
- Employers adapting recruitment processes, such as interviews.
- Allowing flexibility and part-time working.
- Reallocating part of a job to another employee.
President of the Law Society of England and Wales, Nick Emmerson, said:
“The journey to a legal career can be a daunting experience for many aspiring solicitors. A disabled student faces the additional stress of having to overcome barriers based on assumptions and lack of knowledge.
Employers are increasingly committed to recruiting candidates than can help shape a dynamic and diverse workforce and are tapping into a massive and often excluded talent pool.
Since the introduction of the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful to discriminate against disabled people, including by recruitment and selection procedures.
The Legally Disabled? research showed that many disabled people felt more included whilst studying than when they moved into work. We hope our guidance will help with that.
The Covid-19 pandemic – which forced the move to hybrid and remote working – has also helped to improve access for many disabled people and those with caring responsibilities.
Entry to the solicitors’ profession is open to a wide range of candidates and being disabled does not mean exclusion.
We hope this guidance will help disabled students have a positive start as they enter the legal profession.”