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UK Diversity Legal Awards: Dr Sandie Okoro acknowledged

RISING STAR: Joe Egan, Vice President of The Law Society of England and Wales, Natalie Carter - winner of the BSN Rising Star award and BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti

THE EAGERLY-awaited Black Solicitors Network’s (BSN) annual ball featuring the UK Diversity Legal Awards took place on 22 November, at the five star Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in London. The Awards, now in its 7th year, are the only industry awards which focus solely on recognising and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion across the legal profession.

The sold-out awards were attended by over 250 guests from within and beyond the legal profession and presented by BBC News presenter, Reeta Chakrabarti.

Highlights from the night included addresses by senior representatives from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), headline sponsor for the awards, and The Law Society as well as Ken Olisa OBE, Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, who presented the BSN Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr Sandie Okoro; General Counsel of HSBC Global Asset Management and soon-to-be Senior VP and General Counsel of the World Bank, Washington DC.

In his address, Mr Olisa told how Dr Okoro, originally from Balham, South London and of Trinidadian and Nigerian descent, epitomised the ethos of the evening in having dedicated her time to promoting diversity and mentoring young lawyers.

Other big winners of the night included Ruth Grant and her firm Hogan Lovells who took home the Diversity Champion Award as well as the Outstanding Multi-cultural Employee Network Award.

Other organisations awarded for their diversity and inclusion initiatives included Linklaters, Latham & Watkins, Freshfields, PwC (UK) Legal, Halebury Law and Hardwicke Chambers.

Chair of the Awards judging panel, Justine Lutterodt, remarked that the judges were inspired by the finalists and winners’ impressive contribution to enriching the diversity of the legal sector:

"By shining a light on their success, it is hoped we can encourage more firms and courageous individuals to follow suit."

Offering his support to BSN and the Awards, Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London said he;

“Welcome[s] the fact that these awards aim to raise standards across the legal field…It’s [his] hope that these developments will dovetail neatly with our efforts…to promote active citizenship across the capital and improve social integration”.

Paulette Mastin, director of BSN and host for the evening, said;

“It was a great celebration of achievement in enhancing the diversity in the legal profession, an opportunity to reflect on and showcase the positive impact BSN has made in its 21 years and an inspiration to continue in our endeavours in striving for an equal profession.”

For the full list of winners, visit Diversity Legal Awards.

For more information on BSN, visit Black Solicitors Network.

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