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With October being UK Black History Month, fourth-seat trainee Dan has written about the importance of bodies such as the Black Solicitors Network (North) (BSN), of which he’s a committee member, and the opportunities that they provide.
I became involved with the BSN this time last year after I attended a Black History Month event that the Network organised in collaboration with a law firm in Manchester. The Black Solicitors Network is a not-for-profit company which aims to be the primary voice of black solicitors in England and Wales.
BSN has given me the opportunity to see first-hand the enthusiasm and energy that many of Manchester's black students (from secondary to post-graduate level) have for law. Through BSN, I became friends with a law graduate who is from a deprived area of London. He had known he wanted to be a lawyer for as long as he could remember and had worked hard in school to get the grades to go to a redbrick university.
His admission that he had never met anyone who worked in the legal profession until he started university came as no surprise to me. However, for many in the profession, the idea of never having met a lawyer until the age of 18 is unthinkable.
The reality, though, is that in some of the more disadvantaged communities in Manchester and the country at large, there are hundreds of talented, enthusiastic and hard-working young people with aspirations to work in law, who will miss out on the opportunity to do so because they do not have the support systems that their more fortunate peers will heavily rely on to become confident, polished and appealing candidates.
BSN seeks to bridge the gap between the profession and often socio-economically disadvantaged black communities. In Manchester, over the last 12 months, we have collaborated with local law firms, universities and businesses to put on a variety of events, ranging from CV workshops to Question Time-style panels.
Like the graduate I met through BSN, it is important that students from disadvantaged communities create their own networks. This is easier said than done however engaging with organisations like the Black Solicitors Network is a great place to start. Resilience is also crucial. Nobody obtains a training contract the first time they apply for one, self-belief and determination goes a long way.
I am proud to work for a firm like TLT, who engages with and seeks to address some of these issues. Equality, diversity and inclusivity is on the agenda in the profession in a way that it has never been before and I think we should all be optimistic about the future.
BSN membership is free and open to all solicitors, trainee solicitors and paralegals and more information can be found by visiting BSN's Membership page.
Dan Adejumo is a fourth seat trainee solicitor for TLT, currently in the Technology & Intellectual Property team. Dan is based in the Manchester office.