Bristol lawyer chosen as role model to inspire entrants to profession from non-traditional backgrounds

February 9, 2021

Salma Maqsood, a senior associate at Bristol law firm Barcan+Kirby Solicitors, has been selected for a Law Society scheme that encourages and supports young people from non-traditional backgrounds to enter the profession.

Salma, pictured, is one of 12 new social mobility ambassadors appointed this year by the Law Society who have achieved their ambitions in the legal industry and are willing to support their peers and prospective solicitors. 

She will mentor potential solicitors, raising the profile of social mobility and fair access in the legal profession and providing inspiration for students considering a legal career.

The Law Society,  the independent professional body for solicitors, launched its Social Mobility Ambassador programme in 2015 and a group of ambassadors are selected every two to three years.

To be appointed to the role, the ambassadors must have attended a non-fee paying school, been part of the first generation in their immediate family to attend higher education, be passionate about social mobility and fair access to the profession and want to inspire others to follow their career ambitions.

The campaign aims to highlight how the profession is made up of accomplished and talented individuals from all walks of life, and how many will have experienced and overcome socio-economic hurdles in pursuit of their career ambitions and professional success.

Salma said she wants to inspire others from similar backgrounds to hers and those who face similar hurdles and show them that, irrespective of background, if you persevere you will succeed.

A daughter of immigrants, she attended a state school, did not attend a Russell Group university and had no connections to secure a training contract while studying. She sent out more than 100 training applications before securing a training contract.

Despite these hurdles, she successfully qualified, changed her area of practice, raised a family and survived the 2008 property crash.

Salma follows in the footsteps of Bristol commercial property solicitor Karl Brown, a partner in the city office of Clarke Willmott, who was among the Law Society’s first social mobility ambassadors when he was appointed in 2016.

Salma will also chair Barcan+Kirby’s new equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) committee, which aims to bolster and build an inclusive environment focusing on skills, attributes and provide a level playing field for all staff irrespective of race, ethnicity, heritage, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic background.

The committee will also address ways to improve the firm’s policies and make processes such as recruitment and promotions fair, consistent and non-discriminatory. The committee members are drawn from each of the firm’s six offices, its HR and marketing teams and its board. Each member will serve on the committee for a year.

Barcan+Kirby managing partner Bill Willcocks said: “We are honoured Salma has been selected as a Law Society Social Mobility Ambassador.

“Equality, diversity and inclusion is extremely important to the firm and we are also so pleased she is able to chair our newest committee.

“The principles of the EDI committee are relevant to everyone including employees, clients and the wider community. We want to promote a positive working environment for our staff, whilst also giving our clients the best service possible.

“The aim of this committee is to take into consideration all aspects that may affect, or disadvantage a person’s environment, removing barriers and being open to understanding people’s different needs. We will strive to promote diversity and inclusion throughout our marketing, business development and recruitment.”

Barcan+Kirby, which won the Business Award for Gender at the Bristol Diversity Awards in 2019, has six high street branches across Bristol and South Gloucestershire providing a comprehensive range of legal services, including residential conveyancing, family law and mediation as well as issues relating to Power of Attorney and wills and estate planning.

It also won Law Firm of the Year (under 20 Partners) title at the Bristol Law Society Awards 2019.

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