LONDON – To mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Reed Smith is undertaking several initiatives designed to support greater disability inclusion and diversity in the legal profession.

Widely recognized as a disability-forward organization that believes people with disabilities are making great contributions to business beyond the disability space, Reed Smith is pursuing these initiatives in an effort enhance the firm’s position as an ‘employer of choice’ for people with disabilities seeking a career in the legal profession.

These initiatives – launched in collaboration with the firm’s disability inclusion group, LEADRS - include:

  • Publishing a Disability Etiquette Guide, available to all firm lawyers and professional staff as well as external audiences to ensure that everyone feels comfortable working either as a person with a disability or with a person with a disability;
  • Launching LEADRS Asia, an all-personnel disability inclusion group in the firm’s Asia offices that will focus on promoting disability diversity across the region; and
  • Introducing Project Ability, which aims to move the dial on disability inclusion so that people with disabilities are given equal opportunities to build and progress their careers.

Reed Smith’s Disability Etiquette Guide is aimed at increasing awareness of general disability etiquette. The guide was designed with the purpose of helping people, those with and without disabilities, to have open and frank conversations in an appropriate, supportive and inclusive manner and accordingly not causing offense. Understanding disability etiquette and ensuring that workplaces are disability-confident can help individuals with disabilities feel more comfortable and work more productively, which promotes an inclusive and open culture.

Additionally, the firm has formally launched LEADRS in its Asia-Pacific offices, sitting alongside LEADRS U.S. and LEADRS UK. “The launch of LEADRS Asia confirms that disability diversity within the firm has a global footprint and is not restricted to a particular geographic area or culture,” said May Wong, partner and LEADRS Asia representative.

The firm also announced the introduction of Project Ability, the goal of which is to work with Reed Smith lawyers and clients to develop a program to staff specific legal service teams, where at least one person is a member of LEADRS and/or has a disability. The purpose here is to leverage client relationships to enable people with disabilities to showcase their professional talents, while spurring career development and generating tangible business opportunities for everyone.

In support of these initiatives, and in alignment with the firm’s belief in having a continuous dialogue, Reed Smith celebrated International Day of Persons with Disabilities by holding its 2021 Disability Inclusion Summit from October to December. The Summit featured a series of fireside chats and a panel discussion with businesses and organisations from across the world committed to removing the barriers that restrict the career advancement and professional development of people with disabilities.