Q&A with Lubna Shuja | The bar

How many years have you been a member of the board?

I joined the Bar Council in 2013, representing the Sole Practitioners Group (SPG). There are more than 4,500 sole-practice solicitors in England and Wales, many of whom previously worked in firms in the city and across all areas of the profession.

What other roles have you held at the Bar?

I was assistant vice-president before becoming vice-president. I have been a member of the Law Society’s Board of Directors since March 2018. I am the Chair of the Law Society’s Strategic Litigation Group and also a member of the Ethics Committee.

I was the first chair of the Membership and Communications Committee, a role I held for three years. I was a member of the former Membership Committee and also a member of the Review and Performance Review Committee.

What motivated you to run for President of the Bar and what do you hope to accomplish during your years in office?

I’m proud to be a lawyer and I’m proud to be a member of the Law Society, which does wonderful work for its members. Of course, there is always more to do and we need to make sure members see the benefits for them. I have always kept the member perspective at the heart of what we do. I am open to the thoughts and ideas of members who are welcome to contact me at any time with their views.

It’s hard to please everyone all the time, but you also have to remember that there are so many values ​​we all share that bind us together. This is where our strength lies.

Taking on the role of President of the Bar was not something I had really thought about doing. It didn’t seem like a job for someone like me! A number of colleagues suggested I run for office, so I decided to give it a try. I was very lucky because I had the support of so many colleagues and was elected with a large majority on my first attempt.

There is so much to do – members continue to need support as they emerge from the pandemic towards new hybrid ways of working, more international markets need to open up after Brexit, negative rhetoric around lawyers must change for the profession to be valued and recognized as the guardian of the rule of law as well as an essential contributor to commercial/community/global legal services.

We must continue to fight persistent challenges to access to justice so that our justice system is fit for purpose and we must continue to improve diversity within the profession. I hope to do what I can to help put our members in a better position, whatever their needs and goals. I would also like to see the Law Society increase its visibility with the general public so that the excellent reputation of our profession, as well as the promotion of the incredible work of its members, is highlighted on new, different and influential platforms.

Give us a good advice you received

Take every opportunity that comes your way – you never know where it will take you.

What book is on your bedside table?

I always have a stack of about 10 books waiting to be read. Getting to read them is another story! There always seems to be something more urgent to do, so reading time tends to be when I’m on vacation, when I’m going to read two or three books a week (and then I’d like to read more often!).

Favorite city?

Spending my student years and my early working life in London was pretty amazing. There really is no other city quite like it, although New York is a close second.

What needs to be done to diversify senior management roles in the City?

There is a high level of diversity within the legal profession, but this is less evident on the management side. Women make up the majority of the profession (52%) but only 32% of partners are women. Black, Asian and minority ethnic lawyers make up nearly 17% of the profession, but only 7% of partners come from these backgrounds. The numbers are even lower in large urban enterprises. The number of LGBT+ lawyers and people with disabilities does not reflect the population at large let alone in leadership roles.

One of the starting points for increasing diversity in leadership positions is to address the issue of unconscious biases that affect all of us. Only when we know what our unconscious biases are can we take steps to reduce them. This includes reviewing recruitment, selection and promotion processes so that skills are assessed fairly without negatively impacting any particular group of applicants.

Everyone should have equal access to the most valuable work, and setting diversity goals helps build accountability. Finally, allies are very important. Senior leaders must use their power and influence to advocate for change. They need to lead initiatives that make workplaces more inclusive for everyone.

What was your first job?

I started working part-time at 13 and haven’t stopped since! My first job was a Saturday job, working at an indoor market stall selling women’s clothing. It was a great lesson at a very young age in how to run a business. By the time I was 16, my employer trusted me enough to put me in charge of one of his little market stalls selling children’s clothes – I served customers, stocked up and regularly cashed in . It made me realize that I didn’t want to have a job that required me to be on my feet all day!

In rare moments of calm, how do you relax?

Watching Netflix with a bag of popcorn…and reading books for fun when I find the time! Being on the beach is also very relaxing, but I live in Birmingham which is about as far from any UK beach as you can get!