An increase in remote and flexible working since the COVID-19 pandemic could make the legal profession more accessible for disabled people, research suggests.
A survey of over 100 disabled lawyers by the Legally Disabled research team based at Cardiff University, in partnership with the Law Society of England and Wales, found working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak enabled the majority of respondents to manage their disability more effectively.
Its results show 70% of those surveyed would prefer to continue working remotely in the long-term.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, many law firms, legal businesses and in-house teams began allowing all staff to work from home – a reasonable adjustment which many disabled lawyers had requested before the pandemic.
One respondent said: “It’s easier to work from home, as everyone is doing so, which is useful for me. Because everyone is asking for adjustments, it normalises it for those with disabilities who need them.”
Debbie Foster, lead researcher on the Legally Disabled project and Professor of Employment Relations and Diversity at Cardiff Business School, said: “In most cases, homeworking has given disabled people greater control over how they manage their impairment and working environment. We found many disabled people experienced higher levels of trust and autonomy during lockdown and found training, career development and networking more inclusive and accessible.”