Below is a link to an interesting blog from the increasingly prominent legal academic Dr Stephen Vaughan about how, as a gay man, he approaches teaching about diversity in the legal profession and the slightly different situation of having a 'protected characteristic' that isn't self-evident.
The legal profession has a generally good story to tell about diversity - on the bare statistics, at least - but continues to have problems at the upper end in part for generational reasons but also because in places the profession still doesn't see all the nuances that it needs to. This excellent letter on the problems facing women applying for QC status shows the kind of thing I mean.
I would also thoroughly recommend reading this speech on widening participation in the legal profession by the now former vice-chair of the Bar Standards Board, Patricia Robertson QC.
I am going to out myself to my law students tomorrow. I’m teaching a final year module on the ‘Regulation of the Legal Profession’ and we’re currently looking at diversity. So far in the lectures, we’ve ran through the various diversity statistics on the profession, looked at diversity reporting rules imposed by the Legal Services Board and looked at academic work on lawyers and gender/ ethnicity/class. I made the point to the students a few weeks back that existing academic research into diversity and the legal profession in England & Wales often takes a pocket based approach – people looking at gender or they look at class – and that there’s little work on many of the characteristics protected by the Equality Act.