Bar of Ireland pledges support to disAbility Legal Network

03 December 2021

The Bar of Ireland has endorsed the launch of disAbility Legal Network; and is delighted to participate in the Network as a signatory.

Coinciding with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the launch of the disAbility Legal Network aims to

  1. increase visibility and promote awareness and understanding of disability within the legal sector in Ireland; 
  2. promote and develop accessibility within the legal sector;
  3. and give members the opportunity to make connections and build professional networks. 

Welcoming the launch, Aoife McNickle BL, Chair of the Bar’s Equality & Resilience Committee said:

The establishment of the Network represent an important and visible contribution in the ongoing efforts to ensure that the legal sector, as an employer and as a career option, reduces the barriers to entry. The work of Network will no doubt assist in our work in this area, and in particular the forthcoming Equality Action Plan.

In addition to becoming an ally to the Network, it is our goal to become an agent of change around access, experience and usability of our services.

The Network calls upon employers and representative bodies in the legal sector to become allies and work to promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities within the legal sector.  To be recognised as an Ally of the disAbility Legal Network, Allies pledge to:

Increase Awareness/Understanding 

  1. Inclusive culture – Allies will create / promote a culture within their organisation where employees feel comfortable to self-declare their disability. 
  2. Training – Disability awareness training is central to increasing awareness and understanding. Allies will aim to incorporate disability awareness training (at their own cost) into their annual training programme. 

Increase Accessibility 

  1. Building accessibility – Allies will work to make their respective office buildings wheelchair accessible and will promote the standards of the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, where possible. 
  2. Technological accessibility – Technology can be a blocker for many people who live with a disability. The Law Society Technology Committee has collated a list of technology which is used in the legal sector. Allies of the disAbility Legal Network pledge to promote the use of such technology in their workplace.

According to Jane Barrett, founder and chairperson of the Steering Committee for disAbility Legal Network and an Associate at William Fry, 

We are delighted to launch this network today which will not only bring Ireland in line with other jurisdictions like the UK which have similar networks in place but more importantly we hope that the network will have a material impact on achieving disability awareness and inclusion in the legal sector.

Further information can be found on the disAbility Legal Network website, including how to join, news and upcoming events.