Browne Jacobson is proving that its diversity and inclusion (D&I) pledges are becoming actions by the way it is sweeping the awards scene in the legal sector, where an employee has been recognised as a role model for inclusion advocacy, and the firm has won three major awards for its talent diversity work.
The law firm’s health and social care advisory and inquests lawyer Lynette Wieland won the ‘Champion of the Year’ at this year’s ‘Next 100 Years Inspirational Women in Law Awards’. She won for driving inclusivity in the legal profession.
A social mobility and neurodiversity role model wins big
Wieland is a Social Mobility Ambassador at The Law Society, where with a small network of role model solicitors, she shares stories and inspires students from non-traditional backgrounds interested in law.
Aside from advocating for greater social mobility in law, Wieland, who is neurodiverse, is also a champion for Neurodiversity In Law. This network promotes and supports neurodiversity in the sector.
As a Browne Jacobson employee, Wieland continues her advocacy work via central roles in the firm’s Disability Network and D&I group.
Mentorship is also a big part of Wieland’s inclusion career. Via her involvement with the Law Society’s Lawyers with Disabilities Division, the University of York’s widening participation group, and as a Social Mobility Ambassador, she regularly gives advice on disability disclosure and how to access a career in law.
Wieland’s non-traditional entry into law is just as inspiring as her recent achievements, as she left school without A-Levels and lived and worked in a socially disadvantaged area.
After taking an apprenticeship, Wieland became interested in a legal career and applied to the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme (DAS), which provided LPC funding and work experience opportunities. This was followed by an apprenticeship with Browne Jacobson in 2014. She secured a position as a paralegal in the Clinical Negligence team before qualifying as a lawyer in the Health Advisory and Inquests Team.
Wieland commented on her win: “I will continue to dedicate time and energy to breaking down barriers and, as an advocate, amplifying the voices of those with underrepresented characteristics around me. I also want to take the opportunity to thank Next 100 Years for being a powerful changemaker for women in law. I am immensely proud of the important work we are all doing!”
Browne Jacobson: diversity and inclusion awards for talent efforts
As a firm, Browne Jacobson was commended for its talent diversity and inclusion programme via a series of award wins, including the Best Talent and Inclusion Initiative Award at The Lawyer Awards 2021, the Innovation in Diversity & Inclusion Award at the 2021 Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Awards, and the Innovation Award at the fifth annual UK Social Mobility Awards 2021.
The judges at The Lawyer Awards 2021 praised the firm for its “multi-year programme with lots of different interventions all taken together to make a real difference.”
They added: “What was particularly impressive was the way in which the effectiveness of these interventions have been measured, and that measurement has, in turn, contributed to making them even more effective as the programme has gone on.”
Caroline Green, a Senior Partner at Browne Jacobson, said: “Being presented with this award at one of the flagship events in the legal calendar is a fantastic achievement.
“As a firm, we want to be ahead of the curve and do things differently when it comes to tackling some of society’s biggest issues. Our commitment towards a diverse and inclusive environment where talent can truly thrive has never been greater.”
Since 2016, Browne Jacobson has been diversifying its talent pipeline by removing academic barriers, anonymising applications, and focusing outreach work on social mobility’ cold spots’ to make its trainee recruitment process more inclusive.
Another way Browne Jacobson is trying to increase social mobility in the application process is via its FAIRE (Fairer Access into Real Experience) programme launched this year.
The programme offers work experience opportunities to candidates specifically from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Under its FAIRE initiative, it staged two of the UK’s most significant virtual legal careers events, with over 11,000 young people taking part.
Thanks to its various diversity and inclusion initiatives, the firm has been ranked as one of the top five businesses in the UK by the Social Mobility Foundation.
Tom Lyas, a Recruitment Manager and architect of the firm’s FAIRE initiative, said: “To win three major awards in as many weeks has been amazing. They are the icing on the cake for the tireless work of so many people at the firm – work that has been underscored by the launch of our ground-breaking FAIRE initiative this year.
“However, for us, the journey has only just begun, and we will continue to raise the bar when it comes to promoting greater diversity and inclusion within the firm, across the legal sector and beyond.”