New Society Launch: Urban Lawyers North

‘Derby University is a new and upcoming, student-lead university that is receptive to student support and diversity. I knew that the University would be an amazing host for such a society’.

President of for the Urban Lawyers North expansion at the University of Derby, Maya Neama, reports on why she was motivated to get involved and develop a branch of Urban Lawyers North within the University of Derby.

1 in 5 Lawyers in law firms are now BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) Lawyers. Although this stat has improved since 2015, the percent of ethnic minority lawyers has stayed on 21% since 2017. This is a stat I intend to change, and I believe Urban Layers North is a step in the right direction.

Urban Lawyers North is a society based at Manchester University and was founded by Tunde Okewale MBE, Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers. The society is managed by many dedicated, ethnic minority students either studying law or aspiring to work within the legal profession. The society aims to celebrate and promote black and ethnic minorities in law.

There are several events held by this society that benefit aspiring lawyers across the North of the Country. Black history month has only recently been celebrated with interviews with Black Lawyers and Q+A’s with Law firms which looked into CV tips, training tips and culture within firms. This society aspires to help aspirational BAME law students to gain the knowledge and the experience they need to prosper within the legal sector. This society isn’t just something that looks good on your CV; you really do gain some incredible, valuable skills and advice to be successful as a lawyer. It also allows you to network with Local and Nationwide lawyers who are successful and achieving great things in the legal profession.

The inspirational and beneficial nature of Urban Lawyers North is the reason why I wanted to initiate an expansion to the University of Derby. Derby University is a new and upcoming, student-lead university that is receptive to student support and diversity. I knew that the University would be an amazing host for such a society. The students deserve to be a part of something so amazing whether you are a law student or a non-law student aspiring to enter the law world. I want to help inspire students to be passionate about something despite a lack of representation in the field.

A lot of students are put off by certain sectors of work due to the understanding that there is more of a struggle to be successful for certain ethnicities or that they fail to have colleagues that look like they do. This is such an upsetting reality that especially effects a profession that is so traditional and, in some ways, old fashioned. A perception like this is something I will work hard to change. I believe it is important that students feel they are able to pursue their ambitions without having to worry about where they come from, and instead, concentrate on the skills and strengths that they have as a person. A person’s skillset should be the only aspect of a prospective employee that employers should take into consideration; their ethnicity is irrelevant in such a situation.

Being a member of the Urban Lawyers North Society will help to raise awareness and knowledge of under-represented Lawyers and provide BAME students with the advice and networking opportunities that they deserve. It is an amazing organisation and charity, and I hope it continues to flourish.