Law Society of Scotland

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Consulting on Equality Impact Assessments for this professional body for over 11,000 Scottish solicitors

The Law Society of Scotland provides a range of continuing professional development opportunities to solicitors, and accredits legal education and training for those wishing to enter the profession.

The Society initially commissioned us in 2008 to provide a programme of training and consultancy on Equality Impact Assessment. Although the Society was not subject to the equality duties placed on public sector bodies, senior managers had taken the extremely positive step of working as though these duties did apply. Our resulting work included the following:

  • We worked collaboratively to develop the Society’s new three-year strategy for 2009-2011
  • We provided training and coaching to support senior managers in carrying out new Equality Impact Assessments on all the Society’s functions
  • We developed and delivered a tailor-made training session that allowed participants to refresh their understanding of Equality Impact Assessment, and to consider key data and research which they might use as part of assessments (including research into the experiences of disabled people, women, LGBT groups people in the legal profession, as well as consultation undertaken by the Society with Young Lawyers).

Following on from the training, we provided one-to-one coaching with participants to support the development of the new Equality Impact Assessments.

This included reviewing initial drafts of assessments and relevant parts of the Society’s Equality and Diversity Strategy to identify good practice and areas for development for each department.

We worked with the Society on a range of assessments including the implementation of the new legal complaints procedure, the review of the education and training strategy for the profession and the Society’s approach to procurement.

Our suggested actions resulting from the assessments include equalities monitoring of customer satisfaction with complaints, the inclusion of equality issues in media training, and the development of specific equality criteria relating to each tendering process.

Feedback from session participants was incredibly positive.

For example, one participant sent this feedback to the Head of Strategic Change following our session:

“Just had a super session with [the consultant] who has given me loads of ideas of things… which should be included in the assessments. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and educative discussion. Thanks for arranging it.”

On the strength of this work, we were commissioned to undertake some involvement and consultation work for the Society to underpin the new strategy, and to produce guidance on equality issues for the legal profession. This was published under the name of ‘Ensuring Fairness, Creating Opportunities: A practical guide to equality and diversity for Scottish solicitors’.

We have since also run a consultation project (in 2010) with the 30 largest law practices in Scotland to explore further mechanisms to improve equality outcomes in the sector, particularly around the gender pay gap, and to consider whether an equality standard would add value to the legal profession.

“Our experience of EW Group has been one of the most effective, efficient and productive consultancy arrangements we have ever been involved in, in any area of work. Of particular value was their real desire to understand our business and functioning and produce tailored responses – something no less than ten internal colleagues took the time to write to me about.”

Neil Alan Stevenson, Head of Strategic Change at The Law Society of Scotland

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