The panel discussion featured prominent external speakers I. Stephanie Boyce, current deputy Vice-President of the Law Society, Paulette Mastin, Counsel at Linklaters and President of the Black Solicitors Network and Isaac Eloi, trainee at Freeths and co-founder of the Black Men in Law network.
The event was chaired by Russell-Cooke partner and Precious Award winner Kizzy Augustin and introduced by Gareth Ledsham, Equality Diversity and Inclusion lead at the firm. Also on the panel to discuss their experiences were partner Shabnam Ali-Khan and associate Rebecca Olaniyan.
All speakers were asked about the specific challenges they had faced in their careers to date. There were many common themes. Although it was acknowledged that the term BAME may be convenient, it groups together a hugely diverse range of individuals who face very different issues. The panel referred to the divergent experiences of black men and women, Asians being grouped under a single umbrella, East Asians being hidden completely and the terminology failing to recognise further complexities resulting from intersectionality. Equally law firms were able to hide behind the term BAME which may be inflated by the relatively high numbers of Asian women in the profession, whilst covering poor or no representation amongst other groups.
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