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Inspirational BAME women

Celebrating Women in Law

Published on: 8 March 2017

Influential black, Asian and minority ethnic women who have made a significant contribution to society through their work in, and using, the law will speak about their experiences at an event.

The Inspirational BAME Women of the Law event has been organised by Newcastle Law School and brings together seven prominent women who have had outstanding success in using the power of the law to achieve social justice.

Among the speakers will be Marcia Willis Stewart, who represented the families of victims at the Hillsborough Inquiry and the families of Mark Duggan and Jean Charles de Menezes at the Inquests into their deaths.

Also speaking will be Chrisann Jarrett, a final year law student at London School of Economics, who set up the ‘Let Us Learn’ campaign to improve access to higher education for all young people living in the UK. 

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Supporting students

Professor Kathryn Hollingsworth, co-Director of the event and Professor of Law at Newcastle University, said: “By hearing about the ground-breaking achievements of these amazing women, we hope this event will encourage young women and men to study law, to practise law and become the next generation of lawyers, law-makers, judges and academics.

“Although more women than men are entering the legal profession, the majority of senior roles are still filled by men, with even smaller representation among women from BAME backgrounds.  This event will show young people of any gender or ethnicity that they can make a difference working with the law and I hope many will be inspired as a result.”

The keynote talk will be given by Funke Abimbola, General Counsel and Head of Financial Compliance at Roche UK, one of the world’s biggest biotech firms. A graduate of Newcastle University, she is the most senior black lawyer in her field and is ranked by the Financial Times as one of the top 20 BAME leaders internationally.

Ms. Abimbola said: "I am honoured and humbled to be providing a keynote speech at this important event. Since graduating from Newcastle Law School over 20 years ago, I have experienced both racial and gender-based discrimination in progressing my legal career. These challenges have spurred me on to campaign vigorously against discrimination within the legal profession and the wider business community with a particular focus on eliminating racial, gender and socio-economic barriers in particular.

“Everyone should be given the opportunity to maximise their potential irrespective of background. We need to empower others if we find ourselves in a position of privilege, embracing and celebrating our differences to work towards building a better society.”

The Inspirational BAME Women of the Law event is taking place as part of Freedom City 2017 – a city-wide programme across Newcastle marking the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. receiving an honorary degree from Newcastle University.

It also coincides with the launch of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), part of Newcastle University Students’ Union. The only society of its type in the UK, BLSA has been set up to support black, Asian and minority ethnic law students as they start their career in the legal profession.

Titilopemi Wete, President of the BLSA, said: “Diversity in the legal profession is a topic that is widely talked about and whilst I congratulate the Law Society for their improvements and diversity initiatives I am proud to take it a step further and provide support for students studying at university. The BLSA aims to encourage and support minority ethnic students who aim to enter the legal profession. I am thankful to Newcastle University for allowing the establishment of the first Black Law Students Association in the UK.”

The full line-up of speakers taking part in the Inspirational BAME Women of the Law event is:

  • Funke Abimbola
  • Professor Diamond Ashiagbor
  • Chrisann Jarrett
  • Judy Khan QC
  • Usha Sood
  • Marcia Willis Stewart QC
  • Keina Yoshida

The event takes place on Wednesday 22 March, 1.00pm – 6.30pm at Newcastle Law School lecture theatre. To register, visit www.tinyurl.com/WomenofLaw2017

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