Former global managing partner at Clifford Chance, Matthew Layton, sat down with The Lawyer to discuss disability inclusion in the legal sector.
The interview explores reasons for stigma around disability in the legal sector, as well as how to start the dialogue about disability within firms and the wider legal sector. Layton reflects on the cultural challenge that disability inclusion faces, largely due to the stigma and significant under-reporting of disability in the legal sector (SRA 2021).
To challenge this stigma, Layton emphasises the importance of a holistic, firm-wide approach to create inclusive and supportive workplaces whereby people feel comfortable sharing their experiences and having discussions about disability. By taking this “whole firm approach”, as well as collaborating with disability organisations, this can help firms start to dismantle barriers that exist throughout the full career cycle.
The interview concludes with an emphasis on committed leadership and supporting the voices of those living with disability to drive and shape best practice. Although more needs to be done on disability inclusion, Layton believes change is coming: “the more people are able to share openly their experiences of disability, the better the understanding and representation will become and the faster we will see the change that is needed”.