16 Jul 2014

Getting diversity NOTICED

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NOTICED in news

In March 2013, eight City law firms came together to officially launch NOTICED, a network promoting diversity in the legal sector. We look at what NOTICED has achieved one year on

The origin of the inter-law firm initiative NOTICED, aimed at promoting networking opportunities to integrate, celebrate and educate on diversity, dates back to 2011, when members of the multicultural networks of a few City law firms came together to discuss a potential collaboration.

Race for Opportunity and the Law Society were key supporters of this idea, and were critical to getting the relevant representatives from the founding member firms together.

NOTICED’s March 2013 launch was well attended, and provided an opportunity for networking and sharing of best practices. Keynote speakers Dr Fayyaz Afzal OBE, a sight-impaired barrister, and Solomon Wifa, the first black managing partner an international law firm’s London office, highlighted the importance of recognising and celebrating culture and diversity in all forms.

Since its launch, the network has organised various events in furtherance of its objectives. The NOTICED summer networking event in July 2013 saw entertainment from an award-winning youth gospel choir and a musician playing a kora – a West African lute-harp.

In October 2013, NOTICED organised a breakfast seminar with Chuka Umunna MP, who emphasised the need to address the issues of class and social mobility in the ongoing quest for race equality.

This hour-long seminar began with an introduction from Chuka about his background, career and current position in parliament, followed by his views on diversity. The seminar culminated with an interesting and though-provoking Q&A session. Members of the audience presented a variety of topical and challenging questions that not only concerned matters of diversity in law and business but also in media, policy, education and career progression.

In April 2014, NOTICED celebrated its first anniversary with Rageh Omar, a renowned Somalian-born British journalist, who shared his experience of the difficulties and obstacles that he faced when he started as a journalist and how he managed to overcome those with perseverance.

Since its inception, the network has acquired two new member firms and currently consists of ten City law firms: Addleshaw Goddard, Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Baker & McKenzie, Eversheds, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Mayer Brown, Reed Smith and Simmons & Simmons.

Its current co-chairs, Siddhartha Shukla (associate at Herbert Smith Freehills) and Rashida Abdulai (associate at Hogan Lovells International), feel that the network is well poised to take itself to the next level.

Sid Shukla said: “We have received some excellent feedback so far, and we hope our network expands and that more law firms are able to support this unique network. We have some very good events and initiatives lined up for this year and we hope NOTICED continues to make a meaningful impact.”

Rashida Abdulai said: “One year on, we are delighted that NOTICED has met with such a positive response from the hundreds of fee-earners and business services professionals that have attended its networking events to date. We remain focused on making progress towards a more diverse legal profession.”

http://communities.lawsociety.org.uk/getting-diversity-noticed/5045872.article

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