BSN Newsletter – Autumn 2020

Dear Members, 

After what has been a turbulent year so far, I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well.  There have been many challenges facing black and minority ethnic communities in recent months with the disproportionate impact of COVID-19, the murder of George Floyd and continuing accounts of police brutality and injustices.

In June, we issued a statement of solidarity following the murder of George Floyd. Later that month, as the BLM movement and protests ignited the debate on the racial disparities and inequalities that still pervade our society and profession, we published our Open Letter: A call to action for racial diversity to law firms and legal service providers.

We are encouraged by the positive responses and engagement on the issues we have had from the legal sector and the press.  There is a sense that organisations are committed now more than ever before to creating sustainable change for our profession.  With your support, we will do our bit to drive accountability and delivery on these commitments! 

In this newsletter, we would like to share with you our programme of recent and upcoming events and initiatives. Please do feel free to contact us if you have any queries or wish to find out more.

In July, BSN City Group and BSN’s Junior Lawyers Group hosted several virtual ‘Connecting across the distances’ group sessions.  In recognition of the many challenges this year has presented, this series gave lawyers 2-7PQE the opportunity to talk openly and candidly about remote working arrangements imposed by the lockdown, the impact of COVID-19 on our communities, the worldwide anti-racism demonstrations following George Floyd’s murder and their career aspirations.

In July, BSN City Group and BSN’s Junior Lawyers Group hosted several virtual ‘Connecting across the distances’ group sessions.  In recognition of the many challenges this year has presented, this series gave lawyers 2-7PQE the opportunity to talk openly and candidly about remote working arrangements imposed by the lockdown, the impact of COVID-19 on our communities, the worldwide anti-racism demonstrations following George Floyd’s murder and their career aspirations.

Now in its 7th year, the BSN/Accenture annual summer internship programme provided a cohort of 16 BSN undergraduate/graduate student members with two weeks virtual internship experience, which was highly interactive and supplemented with mentorship support from the Accenture legal team.  This collaborative programme has provided aspiring lawyers to be with a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable insights into, and experience working with, a leading professional services firm.  Thank you, Accenture, for your continuing support!

E:  careers@blacksolicitorsnetwork.org

August brought the re-launch of BSN’s Midlands division and we were delighted to host a virtual panel discussion on legal career pathways. The event was well-attended by students and lawyers across the country as our speakers and panellists discussed the SQE, the solicitor route, the legal executive route, the barrister route and the legal apprenticeship route. The discussion was insightful, engaging and, importantly, gave insight into the various options for those wishing to enter and thrive within the legal profession.

Thank you to Sandra Wallace, Frances Swaine, Tom Lawal, Millicent Grant QC (Hon) and Paul Carter for participating and sharing in this important discussion. If you missed the event, you can watch the live recording here.

E: midlands@blacksolicitorsnetwork.org

The UK Diversity Legal Awards is BSN’s annual flagship event celebrating diversity and inclusion in the profession. Whilst the Awards have been postponed this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, we felt that it was important to maintain momentum with our network of UKDLA winners by providing our inspiring Awards alumni with a unique opportunity to connect, share and build a community of change agents.  In this spirit, we hosted a virtual interactive session with past Award winners on 10 August 2020. 

Thank you to Justine Lutterodt of the Centre for Synchronous Leadership and Chair of Judging for the Awards for hosting and leading this session of change agents. We look forward to more of these events and engaging with our Awards alumni who continue to drive change for our profession.


Upcoming events/initiatives:

On Wednesday 7 October, BSN City Group’s Creating Pathways (in collaboration with Shearman & Sterling) will host a virtual seminar event on ‘Building Business Relationships’ with Luan Deburgh. 

We hope you will be able to join us for this informative session.  Please contact bsncity@blacksolicitorsnetwork.org if you have any questions about the event.

Tickets can be reserved here.

BSN North will be re-launching its radio show, Law at the Core, at 9pm on 1 October 2020.  The new programme will focus on employment law issues and consideration of the Black Lives Matter movement.  You can listen in to the show using this link

On 8 October 2020, Kyle Blackburn (Chair of BSN North) will be speaking at Eversheds Sutherland’s Mental Health Awareness event.  The webinar will focus on the impacts of recent events on the black legal profession, including covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, along with discussions about historical figures and role models.  Details of the event will be circulated in due course.

E:  bsnnorth@blacksolicitorsnetwork.org

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) – Board Member Positions (4)

Application deadline:  22 September 2020

The SRA is currently recruiting for four new Board Members – two lay and two solicitor members, to take their positions from 1 January 2021.

It’s a great opportunity for the SRA to recruit people who reflect the communities that solicitors serve and the increasing diversity of the profession itself. The SRA is looking for candidates from every background with the ability to think strategically, an appetite for contributing to strategic change, a demonstrable commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and enthusiasm for acting as an ambassador externally and within the organisation.  For full details, please visit the SRA website. Apply here.

BSN Roundtable on Barriers and Challenges to Success for High Street Solicitors Practices

The killing of George Floyd, in the middle of the COVID-19 global pandemic, exposed to the world the disproportionate suffering of black people at the hands of criminal justice systems and the Black Lives Matter movement forces attention not only to these killings but racial disparity in all aspects of society including access to justice generally and socio-economic disadvantage at all levels of society.

The Law Society has responded to demands from the profession to actively promote race equality and policy will be formulated to support and promote black representation. The Law Society has held a number of roundtables with a range of practitioners, is conducting research on their experience and BSN is actively working with them.

We want to ensure that the voices of all members, including sole practitioners and those in small firms, are heard and plan to hold our own remote roundtable so that as many people as possible have an opportunity to contribute to development of practical measures our professional body can take to level the playing field.

Watch this space. Date to be announced shortly

Joe Mensah-Dankwah and Cordella Bart-Stewart

BSN Directors

We are delighted to announce the launch of BSN Connect, our online directory of black and ethnic minority lawyers, law firms, chambers and suppliers to the legal profession across the country.  

Promote and share your legal, advisory or consultancy services with BSN Connect by signing up today.  Subscription is free for the first 3 months and thereafter will be £45 p.a. BSN Connect is a free service for anyone looking for information about BME focused organisations or individuals providing legal services or other services to the profession.  

Find out more by visiting, www.bsnconnect.co.uk

Recruit from a diverse pool of talent via BSN’s Jobs Board

BSN’s Jobs Board is an online platform for employers seeking to recruit from a diverse pool of talent via our membership.  For details about how to advertise your next career opportunity via our Jobs Board, including the available jobs packages, click here.

E: jobs@blacksolicitorsnetwork.org 

Finally, on a delightfully uplifting note, we are excited to announce that BSN has been shortlisted for a prestigious Law Society Excellence Award – Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion!  This award showcases successful and innovative examples of best practice in the promotion of diversity, inclusion and social mobility, which is so important, now more than ever.

Law Society of England and Wales president Simon Davis said: “Congratulations to all those who have been shortlisted. There are more than 9,000 firms and 190,000 solicitors in England and Wales, so to be shortlisted for a Law Society Excellence Award is to be recognised as being among the very best of the best.”

On behalf of BSN, I extend our thanks and appreciation to all of our supporters, members and volunteers who sit on BSN’s board and committees for your unstinting support and commitment to our mission of working towards an equal profession.

Yours sincerely,


Paulette Mastin

Chair | Black Solicitors Network

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