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Mohammed Adeel: Black History Month at Pinsent Masons

Book open Reading time: 5 mins

As part of Black History Month, Bright Network aimed to provide a platform for the celebration and recognition of black success. We would like to increase our understanding of black history and create space for a real conversation about diversity in the workplace.

Could you tell us a bit about your background?

I was born and raised in Birmingham and come from a non-academic family background, where neither my parents nor any of my siblings attended University.  I have always had a great interest in law and to become a solicitor at a commercial law firm.  I graduated with a Law degree from the University of Birmingham before going on to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at the University of Law alongside a Masters in Business, Law and Management (MSc).

Currently, I am a Paralegal within the Transactional Services department at Pinsent Masons where I assist the Employment, Corporate and Commercial teams across the UK.  I hope you be successful in gaining a Training Contract with the firm in the future.

What have you seen Pinsent Masons doing to be more diverse and inclusive?

There is no doubt that Pinsent Masons is taking diversity and inclusion very seriously by placing diversity at the heart of the firm's strategy.  Project Sky is an example of one such diversity initiative at the firm, which aims to create a better gender balance in the partnership and promote more females to senior levels of the business. Winning the award for 'Diversity Innovation' at the Legal Week Innovation Awards 2017 is testament to the firms' commitment in increasing diversity in the business.  The firm also has various Diversity Network groups, such as the LGBT+ and the Multi-Faith Network where employees are encouraged to get involved and promote equality.

Another fantastic example of the firm's commitment in promoting diversity within the business is the recruitment of a Diversity and Inclusion specialist, Kate Dodd.  A current project which Kate has been involved in is providing unconscious bias training workshops across our international offices.  The aim of these workshops is to eradicate any unconscious bias and promote equality, transparency and fairness in the recruitment process.  

Recently, the implementation of agile working has proven to be a popular and successful concept at Pinsent Masons.  Agile working allows employees to work flexibly and work from home making it easier to work around family commitments or medical appointments etc.  Recently, Pinsent Masons has been recognised by Working Families as one of their 'Top 10 Employers for Working Families' which is another testimony of the authentic inclusive culture of the firm.  Personally, I can give testament to how incredibly helpful agile working is, as during the month of Ramadhan I was given the flexibility to change my work timings to cater for the fasting period.  

What does Black History month mean to you?

Black History month is a celebration which marks the extraordinary contribution that African and African Caribbean communities have made to the United Kingdom.  It is an opportunity to appreciate the progress our country has made in tackling hatred, racism and discrimination in our society. However, we mustn't be complacent.  Rather, we should work together to totally eradicate racism and discrimination and create an inclusive country for all people of all races, gender and ethnicity.    

Will you be celebrating black history month and how do you plan to do that? Will you be doing something at work or at home with your family?

Yes, absolutely.  I will be celebrating Black History Month at work with my colleagues.  Pinsent Masons recognises the importance of celebrating Black History Month in the workplace.  The firm will be hosting a series of workshops delivered by influential figures.  In particular, the firm invited Sir Lenny Henry to the London office to talk about his own personal journey and his current study into the lack of racial diversity in film and television.  It was an excellent presentation.

What would you like celebrated or remembered in Black History month? Whether that is the story of your own family or the actions of a famous person.

I think the individual whose actions have inspired me the most in history are that of the civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King.

Martin Luther King's speech proved that he was a visionary and that as a result of that famous speech the tide of history was altered and the attitude of society was changed forever. 

Martin Luther King gave his life for the civil rights movement and was brutally assassinated, proving that his dedication to the cause was unmeasured and that he was a direct influence in abolishing segregation and advancing racial inequality across the world.

Have you got any events lined up that you are attending or you think are interesting that you could recommend to our members?

As well as having a strong interest in diversity and inclusion in the legal sector, I am also passionate about pro-bono work and have participated in various pro-bono initiatives and projects during my time at University and the LPC.  I am now a committee member on behalf of Pinsent Masons for the Birmingham Law Society Pro Bono Committee where we are currently organising events for National Pro-Bono week as well as other future events.  I would encourage anyone who is wiling to get involved to get in touch.

I am currently working on launching Law Link in Birmingham which is a multi-cultural legal networking group aimed at promoting and celebrating diversity within the profession.  The previous launch in Manchester was attended by 35 legal professionals, including Partners from other firms and a judge.  This is a fantastic event and I encourage everyone to get involved and attend.   

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Coming from an under-represented group, I have always been passionate about the importance of diversity in the legal profession.  At Pinsent Masons, I was given the opportunity to work alongside senior figures of the firm on the acquisition of Brook Graham, a leading Diversity and Inclusion consultancy.  Working on the business development aspect of this unprecedented acquisition in the legal sector offered me an incredible insight into how Pinsent Masons operates as a business.  It has also helped me understand and appreciate the current opportunities in the market place for a firm like Pinsent Masons and the strategic vision of the firm.

This acquisition creates unique opportunities for Pinsent Masons' diversity and inclusion strategy.  It also shows the importance the firm places on being dedicated to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Having Brook Graham on board has been received incredibly well by clients.  It has given clients a lot of confidence as we are not only improving our own diversity strategy, we are able to offer and provide them with innovative and comprehensive solutions to the most pressing challenging issue they are facing such as gender pay gap reporting and diversity and inclusion.