Exploring inclusion and wellbeing initiatives in legal education and practice

Call for contributions for one day workshop.

In elite professions and disciplines like law often characterised by a lack of diversity (particularly in more senior positions), long working days, billable hours and significant pressures, the topics of inclusion and wellbeing are vital concerns. However, rarely are they considered together. This event, organised by Rachael O’Connor (Associate Professor in Legal Education, University of Leeds and LawCare trustee), builds on reverse mentoring research conducted within legal education, higher education more broadly and the legal profession. It aims to bring together a new intersectional and diverse community of researchers, educators, practitioners, leaders and students to explore these topics and focus on improving experiences of studying, accessing and working in the law. This one-day event will be hybrid, with 50 in-person spaces available, and some funding available to help with UK travel costs for attendees who do not have access to other funding.

The focus of this free seminar is the intersection of inclusion and wellbeing in the law, at all stages of legal education and focusing primarily on junior lawyers in practice. Anyone who is working in the law (as an educator, student, researcher, practitioner or other role) is welcome to attend and also encouraged to contribute insights (see details below). Those working in other sectors/disciplines who are exploring inclusion and wellbeing related initiatives and can link this with themes connected to legal education/working in the legal profession are also encouraged to contribute and/or attend. Whilst focusing on the law, it’s important to recognise that we can learn a lot of lessons from initiatives in other disciplines.

Collaborative work between the University of Leeds and LawCare has highlighted a lack of research and evaluation around equity, inclusion and wellness initiatives and, particularly, the involvement of aspiring and junior lawyers in such conversations or initiatives. It has also been evident in our work that the firms, lawyers (at all levels of seniority) and students involved have valued being part of a community striving to make legal education, recruitment, supervision and practice more inclusive and a healthier sector to work in. The more community-based, sectoral approaches we can develop in exploring this work, as opposed to firms and education providers competing with one another in this space, the more well-informed inclusion and wellbeing initiatives and their impact can be.

Contributions are welcome that highlight and explore equity and inclusion initiatives and/or wellbeing and mental health related initiatives in legal education and/or the legal profession. In particular, in the spirit of focusing such initiatives on facilitating cultural change within the sector, as opposed to paying lip service or ticking boxes, contributions are welcome that focus on evaluating the success (or otherwise) and follow-up actions from equity and inclusion and/or wellbeing initiatives. Contributions that look at these issues through critical lenses and/or from lived experiences in the law are also very welcome. Contributions from people who identify as feeling under-represented either in the study of law or the legal profession, as well as from people who have never presented at a workshop/conference style session before, are particularly welcome.

Whilst acknowledging that studying and practising law can be extremely challenging, a key aim of this event is to generate hope. At the event, we will share lots of experiences, practices and ideas to support us in making meaningful contributions towards more inclusive and healthy practices in the law going forward. We will also think about how we can influence others to make their own contributions, creating a snowball effect following the event.

Plan for the Event

The event will take place at HELIX, which can be found on Level 7 of the EC Stoner building on the University of Leeds campus. The current plan for the day is (subject to change depending on the contributions and ideas received):

  • 10–10:30am – arrival, refreshments and welcome
  • 10:30–11:30am – series of short presentations from attendees
  • 11:30am–12:30pm – interactive workshop on reverse mentoring led by Rachael O’Connor and others with reverse mentoring experience
  • 12:30–1pm – “speed conversations” across the group (opportunity to speak with a range of people attending on inclusion and wellbeing related issues)
  • 1–2pm – food and creative activity linked to session themes
  • 2–3:30pm – interactive sessions led by attendees
  • 3:30–4pm – closing group discussion and drawing up community action plan


Lightning-style presentations

  • Duration/guidance: 5 minutes and a maximum of 3 slides (no slides required, if you prefer!)
  • Content: Focus on catalysing cultural change around inclusion and/or wellbeing – inspire/motivate attendees to take action!

Interactive sessions

  • Duration/guidance: 30 minutes with opportunities for attendees to engage
  • Content: Share an example or piece of research related to inclusion and/or wellbeing-focused initiatives for attendees to try out/evaluate for themselves. In any presentation element, focus on sharing the purpose, outcomes and recommendations for legal education/practice

Any practitioners/leaders are encouraged to present with a more junior colleague and likewise, academic presenters are encouraged to co-present with a student.

Submitting a Contribution Idea 

The deadline to submit an idea for a lightning presentation or interactive session is 5 April 2024, 17.00 (GMT). Please submit your idea via e-mail to r.e.oconnor@leeds.ac.uk.  

In no more than 200 words, please outline the focus of your idea, its connection with inclusion and/or wellbeing in legal education and/or the legal profession, how it engages diverse perspectives and how attendees will benefit from hearing about it. In an additional up to 100 words for the interactive sessions, please outline what attendees will be asked to do during the session and why.

If you have any feedback about the outline plan for the day or other ideas you would like to contribute, please share this when you submit your contribution idea. Thoughts are gratefully received!


For any questions about the event, please contact Rachael (r.e.oconnor@leeds.ac.uk). If you are interested in attending rather than presenting/sharing, please look out for sign-up details in the near future.


This event is free of charge to attend. With thanks to the Association of Law Teachers who have provided funding for this event via the ALT Annual Seminar Prize scheme, there is some funding available to contribute towards UK travel costs for those who do not have access to other funding to attend. If you would like to attend but do not have financial support to do so in terms of travel to Leeds, please email Rachael (r.e.oconnor@leeds.ac.uk) to discuss.