We spoke with Charlotte, a Trainee Solicitor who studied History and English at the University of Oxford and completed the GDL and LPC at BPP. She tells us about her experiences of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the firm.
Striving to foster these principles within a firm, within the legal profession and wider society requires a genuine commitment of resource and strategy. During the past six months, I have served as trainee representative on the London Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Council, and have been part of the firm’s strategic work; helping to ensure that DEI is a leadership priority, attracting an exceptional and diverse group of lawyers, law students and staff, fostering a culture of development and inclusion at the firm and engaging in strategic partnerships.
The London office is a warm, diverse and welcoming environment and the firm’s resource groups create dynamic spaces for DEI work to take place, and for networks of support to develop. Resource groups in the London Office include the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), Women’s, LGBTQ+, Social Mobility, Abilities as well as the Parents and Caregivers groups.
In the past year, impactful work to combat systemic racism has been undertaken at the London office and firm-wide, including the ‘Stand Against Hate’ campaign in which more than 450 individuals across Akin Gump’s offices walked, biked and ran a total of 41,000 miles as part of the campaign – resulting in a firm donation of $50,000, split between three organisations: the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), Tahirih Justice Center, and Human Rights Watch. Recently, the BAME resource group in the London office held events throughout Black History Month to consider how to challenge systemic racism and to learn about racial injustice. There is real passion and enthusiasm for this work at the firm, which is coupled with the important recognition that this requires continued commitment and dedication to see the progress we desire.
Another of the many reasons I was drawn to the firm included its reputation for excellence in committing time and resources to pro bono work. Since starting my training contract, I have had the opportunity to immerse myself in the pro bono work the firm undertakes.
With others in the London office and our D.C. based colleagues, I have been working on D.C.-based parole cases, a compassionate release motion, and most recently a Second Look Act application. Working with US clients who have been incarcerated for decades has been an eye opening experience. I have also had the opportunity to work on immigration law cases in the UK, including a child citizenship application with KIND UK and a Zambrano application with Praxis. Recently, one of our clients has been recommended for parole and another has gained British citizenship. Working with these clients is a real privilege, as is the ability, with the vital support of the firm, to engage in pro bono work that has the impact to change lives.