06 March 2023

LSA Solicitors at Festival of Legal Possibilities

Two of our trainee solicitors, Kay Foulkes and Mera Logan, were delighted to take part in Edinburgh Law School’s ‘Festival of Legal Possibilities’ on Tuesday 21st February and Thursday 23rd February, respectively. This event was run by Diversity+ and the University of Edinburgh Law School.

Kay attended the Tuesday session which covered diversity and representation in the legal sector. Kay’s panel discussed the challenges and opportunities faced by those in the LGBTQI+ community in legal practice. Whilst it was a pleasure for Kay to talk to law students and others about life as an LGBTQI+ lawyer amongst her fellow panellists, with the recent blocking of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill by Westminster and devastating murder of Brianna Ghey, this event was a more muted and introspective affair. Kay noted that a member of the audience commented on how compared to the earlier panels, theirs was characterised by a feeling of sadness. This sadness is unsurprising when the situation that the LGBTQI+ community in Scotland, the UK and farther afield is facing is taken into account, and in particular that faced by trans people.

The panel discussed that our Kay Foulkes is the only publicly visible trans lawyer practicing in Scotland, as far as we are aware. Whilst we know there are other trans people in the profession, it is understandable why they may not want to draw attention to themselves – particularly when a survey in 2018 suggested that only one third of businesses in the legal sector were open to the idea of hiring a trans person. Of that third, only 8% thought that trans people should have the same right to be hired for a job as anyone else.

Furthermore, the panel discussed the contrived claims that vulnerable people (cis women and children) are at risk from the impact of ‘trans ideology’ in our society. Barely a day goes by without a negative headline targeted at trans people in the media, so it may come as no surprise that an event discussing the experiences of an LGBTQI+ lawyer in Scotland is tinged by sadness.

Mera attended on the Thursday session which focused on alternative routes into law. In particular, focusing on options available to those who do not wish to enter into the corporate world. The audience heard from those working for public and third sector organisations. Each panellist provided a detailed insight of their route into the legal world and what drew them to choose an alternative path. Every journey was unique and inspiring, highlighting the multitude of options available to those who are considering a different type of legal career.

Mera, speaking on behalf of LSA at her session, provided a summary of the work that the firm carries out and what her role, as trainee solicitor in the mental health department, is within that. Mera discussed the important part that our organisation plays in addressing unmet legal need and defending the legal rights of our clients.

The panellists further discussed the unavoidable pressure of obtaining a traineeship, and the feelings of disappointment that someone may struggle with when unsuccessful. This may be more true for those seeking a position in public and third sector organisations, which naturally tend to offer fewer traineeships than corporate law firms. In addition to this, it may be difficult to find opportunities to gain work experience within public and third sector organisations. The panellists encouraged the students to keep trying and approach sectors they wish to work within and enquire about opportunities. LSA is proud to offer volunteering opportunities to students who are interested making a difference to the lives of our clients and we are grateful for the help and support that our volunteers provide.

Kay and Mera would like to thank Diversity+ and Edinburgh Law School for the opportunity to share their experiences with students and promote LSA’s vital work.

Kay Foulkes and Mera Logan