The Quest for Regulatory Equality part 1

The quest for regulatory equality: the disproportionate impact of regulation on lawyers from BAME backgrounds

The first of two online debates looking at the disproportionate impact of regulation on lawyers from BAME* backgrounds. Our team acts for individuals and firms regulated by the SRA and recent experience suggests that the impact of regulation continues to be an issue. Although solicitors from BAME backgrounds make up only 21% of the profession, they make up around 50% of our enquirers with SRA issues.

Chair: Dave Neita

Panelists: Emma Walker (Leigh Day) Sally Brett (Head of EDI at the Law Society) Peter Herbert, Chair, Society of Black Lawyers Angela Latta, Head of Regulatory Performance and Oversight, Legal Services Board Gideon Habel, Leigh Day

*We recognise that the use of the acronym BAME – indeed any moniker that seeks to group diverse peoples and experiences into a “neat” homogenous group – is imperfect and under increasing criticism. We understand and sympathise with these views. We use it here because it – and its predecessor, BME – reflects the terminology used by the SRA in collating and presenting its reports and statistics on the issue, and therefore has particular relevance to this subject area.

The Leigh Day R&D team story Human rights law firm Leigh Day knows better than most what it is like to be in the regulator’s sights: between September 2014 and October 2018, it was the subject of a high-profile investigation and prosecution by the SRA.

Following a six-week hearing in 2017, the longest in the history of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, and an appeal by the SRA in 2018, all charges brought against Leigh Day and its lawyers were dismissed.

Now, the in-house solicitors responsible for the firm’s successful defence – who now make up Leigh Day’s Regulatory & Disciplinary team – help other legal professionals and their practices deal with their own regulatory queries and problems.

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