Birmingham Black Lawyers was launched on 7th April 2011, the brainchild of 4 junior lawyers who were keen to be part of a network of people from similar backgrounds and with similar experiences, something that was at the time missing in the Birmingham legal market. A non-profit organisation, BBL is managed by Co-Chairs Kishma Bolaji, a Senior Associate Solicitor specialising in medical negligence at CL Medilaw (part of Knights plc) and one of the founders of the organisation, and Tamina Greaves, Senior Crown Prosecutor at the CPS. Since our launch we have gained a sizeable following, with over 300 black lawyers, students, trainees, paralegals and other professionals in the network. We are now also proud to be a registered Community Interest Company as of 23 February 2022.
Our aim is not only to promote and improve diversity within the profession, but to encourage a greater degree of integration and participation by established black lawyers within the legal community. We host a number of events throughout the year, often collaborating with tertiary education centres or law firms, to facilitate networking between students and legal professionals at various stages of their careers. As a result of the opportunities we create students have gone onto secure mentors, work experience, mini pupillages and pupillages, training contracts, paralegal roles and other employment opportunities, junior lawyers have honed their networking skills which is vital to their development and career progression, and our more established lawyers have expanded their support networks and pool of professional contacts.
We have partnered with a number of excellent firms within the Birmingham community to host our events, and have also developed excellent working relationships with The Law Society, Birmingham Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, regularly collaborating on initiatives aimed at improving diversity and supporting the black and minority ethnic legal community.
We have a busy calendar of events every year, including seminars, CV workshops, panel events and networking events. Our annual black-tie Ball is however the highlight of our annual calendar and is hugely successful, with guests travelling from as far as Scotland to attend. Funds raised on the night from the raffle are shared with our chosen charity for that year, which have to date included United Legal Access CIC, OSCAR Birmingham, Young Minds, The Sickle Cell Society, African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI) and African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust. In June 2019 we also launched our own version of the Excellence Awards, presenting recipients with prizes in the categories of Student of the Year, Junior Legal Professional of the Year, Lawyer of the Year and BBL Diversity Champion. Another key feature on our calendar is our Annual Black History Month celebration, an upbeat event with inspiring talks and local entertainment, followed by delectable Caribbean cuisine and networking.
Throughout the year we also host bespoke Insight events in partnership with firms who are keen to showcase their practice to audiences they might not otherwise reach. We also consult and partner with firms on initiatives aimed at offering opportunities to the black legal community and were delighted to have played a key role in the first ever award of the Mills & Reeve Development Bursary in 2020.
If you would like to learn more about BBL, or are interested in partnering with us, we would be delighted to hear from you.