Being offered a law training contract is hard enough for anyone however for someone with a disability or health condition it can seem impossible. “Will firms see past my disability?” “What should I tell them?” and “What support will I be offered?” are just a few of the questions that arise.
Explore the Law is a truly enlightening careers insight event organised by MyPlus Students’ Club which enables bright ambitious students who have a disability or health condition to meet with leading law firms, ask the questions they have, and allay their fears about the impact of them having a disability.
Delegates arrived for a buffet lunch which provided them with the opportunity to start networking with the representatives from the different law firms. The event was formally opened by Nicholas Cheffings who is a Senior Counsel and former Partner of Hogan Lovells, and its Chair for six years to 2018. Nicholas has long been committed to diversity and inclusion and spoke of the importance of having a diverse workforce if firms are to continue to be successful. Nicholas also provided an overview of the legal sector and where a career in law could take you.
Following Nicholas, delegates engaged in a series of sessions including:
A panel session with trainees from the various firms which enabled them to find out more about life at the various firms
A session with each firm about their application process
An Interview Skills workshop lead by one of the graduate recruitment managers
An interactive session on disclosing your disability and requesting adjustments
And a disability panel with representatives from each of the participating firms, all of whom had first had experience of disability, answered questions on topics such as the support they accessed in the workplace, flexible working and being open about their disability with colleagues.
For those who wished to stay, Explore the Law ended with another networking opportunity and the chance to speak to representatives from the firms including those from the recruitment teams, those who had been on the panel and representatives from the firms’ Disability Networks.
“May I take the opportunity once again to thank you for this fantastic event. It really was beyond my expectations … I now know that I belong somewhere, that I am special, that we are unique and that we are brave and very capable people (and that) we can use any disadvantages and turn them to advantages”.
“It was very useful to hear from trainees who are working in commercial law while dealing with a disability. The panel discussions gave a great insight into how they deal with their disability while working and the adjustments that can be made.”
“The most thoughtful and insightful event that I had the pleasure of attending. It was touching and informative and I don’t think I’ve ever been determined to pursue my commercial law goals even more after “
“It was very helpful and reassuring that disability is not a concern within the field of law.”
“It made me less scared to be open about my own mental health. Culturally it’s something I’ve always been taught to hide this event really put things into perspective for me and is helping me reduce that fear of being judged at the interview stage for having a mental health condition.”
“The entire day was inspiring. To see how your disability isn’t a drawback or a problem but what makes you special didn’t seem like a cliche here, it felt like reality”
Participating Employer Feedback:
“We’ve been working with Helen Cooke from MyPlus and participating in the annual Explore the Law event for a number of years. This is a key event which forms a core part of our disability strategy within graduate recruitment at Hogan Lovells. This event is always extremely insightful and practical to both the students and employers involved. I always come away having learnt something new and having met some incredibly inspiring students and peers from other law firms along the way.” Michelle Ruddle – Hogan Lovells
“I found the event really powerful and informative. As a panellist, it felt very rewarding to share my story, and I was comfortable doing so in such an open and encouraging environment. It was interesting to hear from people, both from within my industry and those looking to explore the law, reflect on their experiences and relate these to my own.” Heather Broadbent – Slaughter and May
“We were one of the firms to sponsor the annual MyPlus: Explore the Law Conference 2019. Several speakers from the firm helped to demystify the application process, and life inside a law firm. There was an opportunity at the end of the day to network with attendees from the day and encourage them to apply for our opportunities. It was an inspiring day and, as a team, we learnt a lot from the attendees about their journeys and how we can support them if they did want to join the firm.” Hannah Bayfield – Baker McKenzie
The MyPlus Students’ Club 2020 Explore the Law Careers event will be taking place on the 3rd of December, hosted by Norton Rose Fulbright in Central London.