When I heard about the Disability in the City Conference, organised by Aspiring Solicitors, Lawyers with Disabilities (a division of the Law Society), PwC and Reed Smith, I wondered what set this event apart from other events run by similar organisations. I knew that the only way to find out would be to go along. It turns out that going along to the event, was one of the best things I have done during my first term at university.
The event gathered a variety of students with one thing in common, we were all ambitious, disabled and interested in a career in the City. Also present were various members of graduate recruitment, and diversity and inclusion managers from law firms and other corporations.
The event was split into three sessions, each consisting of a panel of speakers with a broad spectrum of disabilities, from wheelchair users, to people with visual impairments, and people with mental health conditions. Each speaker discussed their career history, how their disability had impacted on their career and then answered any questions the audience had. The main thing that came across from all the speakers was that, although they were not defined by their disability, they believed they possessed different skills and perspectives because of it, such as tenacity, determination and resilience, due to the challenges overcome. Projecting their positive outlook and inspirational stories to the audience, they enabled students to feel like they could relate to the speakers, and inspired the students to follow in the footsteps of the role models in front of them.
The event also featured a talk from Transport for London and the director of a recruitment website for disabled graduates, followed by talks about reasonable adjustments by diversity and inclusion staff at both Reed Smith and PwC. This emphasised to students both how companies are willing to make adjustments in order to level the playing field, and are keen to recruit a diverse workforce.
The day also involved many opportunities to network with professionals, allowing students to build valuable relationships and find out about the opportunities on offer within the organisations present.
I would personally like to thank Waqas Zaib from Lawyers with Disabilities, and Chris White from Aspiring Solicitors, for their hard work and effort in organising the event. I would also like to thank the role models who gave up their time to share their stories. It was a fantastic event which has certainly inspired me to pursue a career in the City.
April Birring, Law Student and Aspiring Solicitors Student Representative at the University of Sussex.