First woman of color elected president of the Derby and District Law Society

A Friar Gate lawyer has become the first person of color to be elected president of the Derby and District Law Society. Manesha Ruparel is a partner and works at Alexander & Co Solicitors LLP as a family lawyer.

Manesha, 39, whose parents are from East Africa and of Indian descent, has been innovating all her life. She told Derbyshire Live: “I wasn’t brought up in a privileged background at all, nobody was in the legal business when I was growing up.

“My parents were from East Africa, they came from Uganda and Kenya when Idi Amin asked everyone to leave and they came to work hard to make sure we were all taken care of. as a family.”

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“My siblings and I were the first generation to go to college, and we had a pretty tough upbringing in the sense that we were the only Asians in school, we went to a Roman Catholic school, and we experienced racism on a daily basis, so it was quite a difficult time, but we were absolutely determined to persevere and get through it.”

Manesha, originally from Manchester, studied law at the University of Liverpool and then completed her legal practice at Chester College of Law. After working for free in a law firm for almost a year, she was hired as an intern at a firm in Liverpool.

She cites her supervisor Jenny Walsh in this role as “the most amazing and supportive role model who has moved my career forward”. She said: “I had an amazing supervising lawyer training me and she was just phenomenal.

“Jenny made you realize that you can do whatever you want and you are capable of doing whatever you want if you put your mind to it.”

She said: “I used to work in Liverpool city lights but my husband was born in Derby and we got married and he said to me, ‘Come on, come to Derby, it’s Derbados’, so he persuaded me to leave the bright city lights of Liverpool and move to Derby.”

Manesha moved to Derby in 2008 and now lives at Darley Abbey with her husband and two sons. As a family lawyer, she assists clients in a range of family matters including divorce, finances during separation, children’s matters over the past six years.

Having initially wanted to specialize in corporate law, Manesha quickly discovered a passion for working with families. She said: “It was something I thought I would never get into, but after trying it I found out it was something I really wanted to do.”

“I really love helping people and I didn’t just want to check contracts, I wanted to make a difference for people in their lives because when people come to you with their family matters, they’re usually at their lowest point. No one ever goes into a marriage or a relationship wanting it to break up.

“The support as a family advocate that you give people from start to finish is rewarding and you see the transformation people make in the end, you help them move forward in their lives.”

Derby and District Law Society represents lawyers in Derbyshire. The society can help members of the public find a local attorney with a particular specialty.

Previously, Manesha served as vice president of the company, but with the support of her company, she was elected president earlier this month (May 4). Manesha explained that getting the job was a journey that lasted years:

“When I first moved to Derby I was encouraged to join the Derby and District Law Society and when I joined, about a year later, someone appointed me assistant vice president .”

She said: “I was nominated but faced many challenges over the years and pulled out.”

“Finally in 2019 I was named Assistant Vice President and it was just amazing, with a testament to diversity, I am honored to be elected the first President of color since our company was founded in 1886.”

Manesha says the company works hard to promote diversity within it and has set up a sub-committee alongside the University of Derby to achieve this. She told Derbyshire Live she was aware of the hurdles underrepresented groups have to navigate in the legal profession.

She said: “One of the biggest hurdles is your own belief because as you grow up, if you’re prone to racism, for example, you question your identity and you question your confidence and that really affects your confidence in believe you can challenge stereotypes.”

“If you are told that you have to change your skin color or that you don’t adapt because of your skin color or that you have to go back to where you came from,

“You’re constantly trying to fit in and doing more to try to fit in, and then you wonder and think, ‘Am I really capable? and these are some of the obstacles you face. »

“Underrepresented groups are always exposed to harmful stereotypes, whether directly, indirectly, consciously or unconsciously; so, by raising their barriers to entry and progression, we need to change that by creating a more inclusive environment.

She said: “I really look forward to working with Vice President Oliver Maxwell and Assistant Vice President Tina Attenborough. We are excited to work together with a determination to make positive change to make us more diverse and reflect the communities that we live in.”