In both the UK and the US, lawyers who are BMEs are significantly underrepresented in the legal profession. In the UK, we see significant numbers of BME law and bar school students but low numbers receiving pupilages and training contracts. In the US, the numbers of Black and African American law students have increased slightly over time but few achieve partnership in law firms. The end result, despite policies and programs aimed at addressing these concerns, is a legal profession that is not particularly diverse in terms of race and ethnicity. Why is that?
Might attitudes and biases – both conscious and unconscious– toward race and ethnicity be impacting the ability of BMEs to enter and rise within the legal profession? If that is not the case, how do we explain the persistent low numbers of BMEs in law firms and chambers? If it is true, are there strategies, policies, or programs that might allow us to combat it and what might those be?
Kevin D. Brown is the Richard S. Melvin Professor of Law at Maurer School of Law at Indiana University. For over 25 years he has been studying American, South African, and Indian attitudes toward individuals with darker skin colour. During the Spring, 2014 semester, he has been teaching a course to American law students in London that compares and contrasts the experiences of blacks in the US, with that of blacks in the UK, blacks in South Africa, and Dalits in India while researching how the experience of being Black in the UK compares to that in the US and what that might mean for law schools and the legal profession.
Please join us as Professor Brown presents some of his findings and discusses their implications for the legal profession, followed by a roundtable discussion among British and American lawyers about the impact of race and ethnicity within the British and American legal professions.
Co-sponsored by the Equality & Diversity Committee of the Bar Council; the InterLaw Diversity Forum; the Black Solicitors Network; the Law Society of England & Wales; and the Society of Asian Lawyers.
4:30 PM – 5:30 PM Registration
5:30 PM – 5:45 PM Welcome and Introductions
5:45 PM – 6:00 PM Diversity in the UK and US
A comparative overview of the diversity statistics between the British and American legal professions
6:00 PM – 6:20 PM Understanding Attitudes Toward Skin Colour: Comparing the UK, US, South Africa and India
6:20 PM – 7:00 PM A Conversation about Race and Ethnicity in the British and American Legal Professions
Kevin D. Brown, Richard S. Melvin Professor of Law at Maurer School of Law at Indiana University
Gelaga King, 2 Bedford Row and Vice-Chair of Equality & Diversity Committee of the Bar Council
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM Roundtable Discussion Amongst British and American Lawyers
8:15 PM – 8:30 PM Closing Remarks
8:30 PM – 9:00 PM Networking Reception
Registration fee: $15 US dollars/10 British pounds
No charge for students.