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New guidance on best practice around reasonable adjustments

30 November 2021

The Law Society is encouraging firms to improve the way they recruit and retain disabled lawyers and legal staff, arguing that disability has been side lined in the profession’s diversity efforts. Securing reasonable adjustments consistently emerged as the most significant barrier for disabled people in the profession in the Legally Disabled? research launched in 2020.

In best practice guidance published in partnership with Cardiff University, the Law Society aims to help organisations understand what they’re legally obliged to do in terms of reasonable adjustments, and how to implement them in order to improve their treatment of disabled staff.

The guidance also includes real examples from many firms and organisations to share best practice of what’s being done and is working right now. Suggestions include a reasonable adjustment ‘passport’ that sets out an employee’s needs; physical adaptations such as ergonomic chairs and soundproofed rooms; changes to the office layout; flexible working arrangements; and reductions in billable hours targets. The guidance also includes a terminology and language section, explaining many terms and concepts relating to disability inclusion.

I am hugely impressed with the guidance; it’s well written and the examples of solutions and workarounds being used in law firms are invaluable, as it shows disabled people what is possible and practical.

Above all else this guidance is inclusive. Not just for those of us it is intended to help, but also for those of us who work with those who have disabilities. I encourage everyone to read it; my disability is primarily physical and as such have had no experience with neurodivergence. To say it was eye opening would be an understatement, both in terms of the disabilities people live and work with, as well as the possible practical solutions.

Through conversation in the Disability and LTC network meetings it’s clear what those of us living with disabilities value most are the ‘little’ things; people asking us about our conditions rather than making assumptions, showing forethought or considering our needs as a matter of course.

The Law Society’s Reasonable Adjustment Guidance is a great place to start in considering the possible needs of others. One in five people in the workforce has a disability – that’s not a small percentage.

If we all as a firm and a community take five minutes to consider one of the ‘little’ things, how much more do we get back in response?

Written by Helen Hutton, Practice Assistant.

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