Creating Inclusive Spaces in the Legal Industry

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The Constitution of India speaks about equality. And yet we practice rampant inequality on the ground; excluding those that are less privileged than ourselves. Worse still, we do this within the legal ecosystem: one that is meant to safeguard constitutional values.

Honestly, it is unfortunate that there are 4-5 crore disabled persons in the country and there is very little in terms of infrastructure or in terms of resources allocated to them. I think the mindset is not really a very helpful mindset or where you feel it is very accommodative. It has to stem down from the government. It has to be a priority and not in a very special way. I have always maintained this – that I don’t want concessions and I don’t want anything better. All I want is you make life a little simple, the way you make it for everyone else. It is not really about resources.

– Shweta Bansal [Shweta Bansal, formerly at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, fought vehemently against discriminatory rules for joining the Indian Foreign Service]

“The main apprehension that the society has against disabled lawyers stems from their inability to read. Once court processes are completely digitized, that limitation is gone and we will be on par with our able-bodied counterparts. The only difference will be that able-bodied lawyers will use laptops and their disabled counterparts will use braille displays or screen reading technology, so there will be real equality.”

– Senior Advocate SK Rungta [Blind since birth, SK Rungta has many accolades to his credit including being conferred the prestigious senior advocate title by the Delhi High Court in 2011)

CREATING INCLUSIVE SPACES | AN EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM FOR THE LEGAL INDUSTRY

Image of students at Ramakrishna Mission Blind Boys’ Academy sitting in a group

From the IDIA Sensitization at the Ramakrishna Mission Blind Boys’ Academy in December 2015.

A large part of the discriminatory attitude towards people with disabilities springs from our lack of awareness and a concern that the differently abled may be more of a liability than an asset. IDIA is organising a conference though which we hope to bust these assumptions and prove two important points.

Firstly, the differently abled (particularly the visually impaired) can make for outstanding lawyers, given the right support and ecosystem. In fact, studies demonstrate that addition of such diversity not only furthers social justice, but also makes for a more creative and productive working environment (the “business case for diversity”).

Secondly, the cost of creating an inclusive ecosystem to support the differently abled is not that significant.

About IDIA

Image of Nikita smiling at the camers

Nikita Shukla, and IDIA Scholar, is a third-year law student at Government Law College, Mumbai and has seen her fair share of hurdles in life.

IDIA works towards creating a more inclusive and diverse legal industry in order to foster greater creativity, holistic thinking, efficiency and equality. It supports a number of visually impaired scholars who are studying in various law schools. Through their admissions to the leading law schools (through CLAT and other competitive law entrance exams), we’ve busted the notion that they are unfit for the top law schools.

You may read IDAP Interview Series, a unique initiative that interviews disabled lawyers in all spheres of the legal profession to solicit actionable insights from them on the strategies adopted by them to excel in their field. The series also seeks to educate and increase awareness within the legal fraternity, with the ultimate aim of fostering meaningful dialogue on reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities.

We receive a number of queries from law firms and other institutions on how they can support our differently abled scholars through internships (and later employment as well). We therefore felt the need to organize this workshop as a means to effectively sensitise and induce more employers to create inclusive workspaces. Through this sensitization workshop, we hope that a number of employers in the legal ecosystem and beyond will be more amenable to creating inclusive working spaces.

CREATING INCLUSIVE SPACES:  EMPOWERMENT THROUGH EQUALITY”

WORKSHOP AND TRAINING PROGRAM

BY IDIA Charitable Trust | Supported by Sony Pictures Networks Distribution India Pvt. Ltd

24 & 25 FEBRUARY 2018 | Mumbai

The workshop attendees will include leading lawyers, law firm partners/associates, in-house counsels, civil society representatives, inclusion experts, and others who are interested in fostering inclusive workspaces. An added bonus is meeting IDIA Scholars with disabilities, who overcome many hurdles to pursue their education in law.

The resource persons for the program will be disability-rights experts, specialised trainers, and persons with disabilities in the legal profession, who will share valuable insights for making the legal profession inclusive.

Event Details:

The dates and details of the event are set out below:

Date: 24 February 2018.

Timings: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Venue: 20 Downtown, 2nd floor, Cambata Building, Above CCD, 125, Jamshedji Tata Road, Churchgate, Mumbai, 400020.

Thank you to our Sponsor:

This two day workshop by IDIA is made possible owing to the generous support of Sony Pictures Networks Distribution India Pvt. Ltd.  We are grateful to them for the same.

RSVP for Event:

We really hope to have members of the legal profession (and without) can attend this. Will mean a lot to us and our scholars.

If you can make the event, can you please RSVP to: [email protected]. With a copy to [email protected].

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