Recent news about SEMLA

SEMLA and Burness Paull: work experience offered to ethnic minority law students 

1st May 2019

SEMLA are delighted to announce that Burness Paull have offered two ethnic minority students work experience for a week in partnership with SEMLA.

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SEMLA awarded commendation at the Law Awards of Scotland 2018

29th November 2018

SEMLA's achievements were recognised when it received a commendation at the Law Awards of Scotland 2018 in the CSR Award Category. 


SEMLA recognised in the Scottish Parliament

28th November 2018

SEMLA’s achievements were recognised when it received a commendation at the Law Awards of Scotland 2019 in the CSR Award category. Further, Liam Kerr MSP lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament commending SEMLA’s work on 28 November 2018. The motion read: “That the Parliament welcomes the creation of the Lord Hope of Craighead Scholarship by the Faculty of Advocates; understands that the scholarship was unveiled at the first anniversary of the Scottish Ethnic Minorities Lawyers Association (SEMLA), which focuses on the mentoring, networking and support of ethnic minority lawyers in Scotland; recognises that the scholarship, named after one of the Faculty’s most celebrated figures, is funded by a voluntary levy on the earnings of practicing members of the faculty; acknowledges that the funding is aimed primarily at assisting devils, also known as trainee advocates, during their nine-month training period; believes that both SEMLA and the Lord Hope of Craighead Scholarship are crucial in creating a more diverse and representative legal profession in Scotland, and wishes the two innovative initiatives every success in the future.”

SEMLA and Faculty of Advocates: First Anniversary and Lord Hope Scholarship Event 

14th November 2018


















The Faculty of Advocates hosted SEMLA for its first anniversary event in the Laigh Hall, Parliament House, Edinburgh on 14 November 2018. The event was a celebration of SEMLA’s achievements in its first year and included the launch of the Faculty of Advocates’ scholarship scheme. The scholarship scheme is designed to improve access to the Bar for those individuals from under-represented groups at the Bar, including ethnic minorities. The keynote speaker was Humza Yousaf MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Justice. Humza Yousaf commented: “These two innovative initiatives aim to help the profession become more reflective of the clients and communities it serves by increasing the representation of ethnic minority lawyers across Scotland's legal sector, and improving accessibility to the bar for those who might otherwise be dissuaded due to the costs of pursuing that path. A career in law should be open to all groups and all backgrounds to ensure the legal profession – and Scotland – benefits from their ideas, their talents and their potential to provide access to justice for all. Diversity is not a tick box, not something that is ‘nice to do’; it is a necessity.”

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SEMLA and Burness Paull: Spring Insight Day 

11th April 2018


This event was held at Burness Paull’s Glasgow office on 11 April 2018 with the aim of giving current law students who were members of SEMLA insight into the working of a commercial law firm, including sessions led by partners, the graduate recruitment team and current trainees


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SEMLA and Ashurst: How innovation and legal tech is changing the legal services market

28th March 2018 

An educational and networking event was held at Ashurst’s Glasgow office on 28 March 2018. Mike Polson, Glasgow Managing Partner and Co-Head of Innovation for the firm, shared his thoughts on the changing law model and how developments in legal tech are having a significant impact on the way legal services are provided. The event included an opportunity to meet members of the Ashurst Advance team who are pursuing alternative careers in law as well as seeing demos of legal tech in action. After the event, Mike Polson commented: "Ashurst has a strong and unconditional commitment to diversity and inclusion and, within our Glasgow office, we are extremely proud of the diverse and inclusive workforce and environment which we have built together. It is one of our key strengths and drives improved business performance. We were absolutely delighted to work with SEMLA in helping them to promote their objectives and to share with their members some of the new and exciting opportunities and careers within the legal services market."

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SEMLA and MacRoberts: Educating law students and junior lawyers about the traineeship application

29th November 2017

SEMLA held an educational event held at MacRoberts’ office on 29 November 2017. This event was aimed at educating law students and junior lawyers about the traineeship application process and recruitment within the legal profession. The guest speakers were Rupa Mooker, Director of HR at MacRoberts, and Olivia Parker, Careers Development Officer of the Law Society of Scotland. After the event, Rupa Mooker commented: “I was delighted to host and speak at SEMLA’s event on maximising opportunities and legal recruitment at MacRoberts yesterday evening. The happy faces of the SEMLA steering group at the end of the night reflect what a successful evening it was!”

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SEMLA and Harper Macleod: networking event draws a full house

24th August 2017

The Scottish Ethnic Minorities Lawyers’ Association (SEMLA) started opening the doors to the profession for its members last night as the group’s first networking event took place at the Glasgow offices of Harper Macleod.


SEMLA was set up with the aim of providing guidance and assistance to the country’s young ethnic minority lawyers and law students, tackling their under-representation in many aspects of the Scottish profession.


Following a successful launch in July, supported by some of Scotland’s leading legal figures, the group was overwhelmed by the positive response to the inaugural event which saw around 40 attendees hear from Martin Darroch, chief executive of hosts Harper Macleod, before enjoying an evening of refreshments and networking.


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Lord Advocate and other top legal figures give new ethnic minority lawyers association stellar launch

6th July 2017

Some of Scotland’s leading legal figures joined together to support the launch of a new body which aims to ‘open doors’ for the country’s young ethnic minority lawyers. The Scottish Ethnic Minorities Lawyers’ Association (SEMLA) was officially launched at the Law Society of Scotland in Edinburgh last night.The association, which was formed with the support of the Law Society and Faculty of Advocates, aims to help tackle the under-representation of ethnic minority lawyers in many aspects of the Scottish legal profession.

In front of an audience gathered from all areas of the profession, Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC, said: “As Lord Advocate, I welcome the foundation of the new Scottish Ethnic Minorities Lawyers’ Association, SEMLA.”

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SEMLA Launch - The Herald

24th May 2017

Ethnic minority lawyers group puts diversity at heart of profession

IN ITS most recent study on the demographics of the legal profession the Law Society of Scotland found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that ethnic minorities are under-represented.


The figures, which were last collated in 2013, show that while those from a black background make up one per cent of the population they account for less than one per cent of solicitors. Those from Asian backgrounds, meanwhile, make up three per cent of the population at large but just one per cent of the solicitors roll.

A small band of solicitors and advocates aims to change that.

Led by Usman Tariq, an advocate at Ampersand Stable, the Scottish Ethnic Minority Lawyers Association (Semla) is setting out to shatter perceptions that the law is closed off to people from non-white backgrounds.

Read full article here

Photo courtesy of Herald & Times Group

Ethnic minority lawyers' group moves towards formal launch - The Journal

6th February 2017

The Scottish Ethnic Minority Lawyers Association is a step closer to its formal launch following the first meeting of its newly appointed steering group.

Supported by the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates, SEMLA is currently being piloted by a five strong group comprising Usman Tariq (advocate, Ampersand Stable), Omar Ali (partner, Harper Macleod), Naeema Sajid (partner, Aberdein Considine), Sheekha Saha (solicitor, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and a Law Society of Scotland Council member), and Imran Bashir (procurator fiscal and Equality Ambassador for Race at the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service).

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Eid lunch marks a first for Scottish lawyers

9th August 2016

Ethnic minority lawyers and others gathered for the first Eid lunch for Scottish lawyers in Glasgow last Saturday (6 August). Hosted by advocate Usman Tariq and co-sponsored by the Law Society of Scotland and Faculty of Advocates, the event was attended by many ethnic minority lawyers and law students.

It marks the first step towards a formal launch of a networking and support group for ethnic minority lawyers in Scotland later this year. The Scottish Ethnic Minority Lawyers' Association (SEMLA) is to be supported by both the professional bodies.

Read full article here

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