The new President of Birmingham Law Society has pledged to make the legal profession more inclusive by focusing on social mobility, racial equality and diversity.
In his acceptance speech to an invited audience of society members, Mr Tony McDaid, Chief Executive of No5 Barristers’ Chambers, said access to the legal system – for those seeking justice and for those wanting a rewarding career – will be the primary focus of his Presidency.
“I want the society under my leadership to be at the forefront of the campaign to provide greater access to the law. To be clear this is not simply for aspiring solicitors and barristers but the myriad of professions that are part of the BLS family and benefiting from being part of the legal profession, for example marketing, accountancy and IT to name but a few”.
He continued: “But we also need to go further than ever before. I will be engaging with inner city schools to pull back the curtain and let schoolchildren, who may not otherwise have exposure to such career paths, see and experience what a career in the law looks like and how it can be achieved”.
Mr McDaid, the first non-lawyer to hold the post, says the profession must be proactive in reaching out: “Our doors should not be closed to anyone and certainly not simply because a child comes from a poor socio-economic background. I will personally be attending Inner City Schools and attending school career events to actively sell what we as a Law Society can offer. I hope to inspire children so that they can see here and now in the city of Birmingham, there has never been a more welcoming period in our history for children to aspire to become part of our legal community”.
Mr McDaid qualified as a member of the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC) in 1988 and sits on the IBC Executive and Management Committees and the Bar Council Ethics Committee. He is treasurer of the West Midlands Irish Business Group and is a well-known figure on the Birmingham legal scene.
As Chair of the Birmingham Law Society International Committee, he successfully brought the Commonwealth Lawyers Association to Birmingham in July of this year for a joint Conference with BLS “Race to the Commonwealth and Beyond”.
Mr McDaid said: “In Inez Brown we had our first black President in our 200-year history. She will not be the last. I want to build on Inez’s legacy and encourage even greater racial diversity drawing Birmingham Black Lawyers (BBL) closer to the society. My chambers are the first and only Gold Sponsor of BBL and I have seen first-hand the energy, talent and vision of their members”.
Mr McDaid has also committed his Presidency to the twin issues of attracting more women into the profession and, crucially, retaining them. ”For far too long the profession has simply allowed talent to drift from its ranks. We simply must do more and find ways of preventing this talent drain”.
He continued: “Yes there are many complex issues around retention and ensuring our female colleagues come back into the legal sector once they choose to start a family and progress is being made. However, it is undeniable that as a collective more can and should be done. It’s time for tangible action to take place that can be measured and improved upon”.
Tony McDaid’s Presidency began on 28th September 2022 and will run for one year.