A Nigerian-born lawyer has shared her experiences of developing a career in the North East and also offered her support of the Chamber’s Race, Ethnicity and Discrimination (RED) Commission’s work.
Amanda Adeola is a Partner with BHP Law and specialises in family law.
Her career started with a degree from London Metropolitan University and a professional practice qualification from Huddersfield University. Like many young solicitors she found it difficult to get a training contract after her studies. However, a lucky move to the North East, as her husband had a new job in Richmond, opened up an opportunity to work as a paralegal at Hodgsons & Mortimer. She was able to subsequently qualify as a solicitor in the firm.
Amanda Adeola explained what initially appealed to her about legal work as a career She said: “My passion for the law was forged in my childhood and the desire to fight for injustice. My mother owned a cleaning business in Nigeria that tendered for official contracts in both private and public sectors. On occasions when she has delivered the work on time and to cost, and fulfilled her part of her contract, to get paid often was an issue. The system was flawed, and it was more about how wealthy you were or who you knew. This fired up a great desire to get justice for people when they had been ill-served. I wanted to make sure people were treated properly where I can.”
This background informed her career development into the field of family law and dealing with divorce, finance and private law children matters. Another appeal of this legal work was that there were very few black lawyers in this field in the region and she was keen to encourage other people from minority backgrounds to do it as well.
She joined BHP Law in 2018 and was promoted to Partner in 2019.Amanda also sits part time as a Chair of the Valuation Tribunal for England
With regard to her career development and lessons learnt, Amanda Adeola is keen to pass on her knowledge of the positive impact of having a diverse workforce.
She said: “Diversity and Inclusion is very important to not just me as an individual but to us all as a society. The beauty of diversity is that it allows us to experience different ideas, ways of doing things and allows us to see things from a different perspective. When we have a diverse workforce, it creates an atmosphere of impossibilities. Research shows that organisations with a diverse workforce thrives better therefore this is an advantage for us all and our economy”
“In my work I’m very keen to work with people whatever their needs, and to cultivate an inclusive culture where clients come to me, no matter their race or religion.”
Amanda Adeola believes the North East has to do more to have diversity in the companies’ senior management teams. She said: “I sometimes hear businesses say that they have robust anti-discrimination/Diversity and Inclusion policies. Then I don’t always see minority groups represented in their senior management teams so I’m interested to see why that is the case and if they are helping those people to progress. I am very supportive of the Chamber’s RED commission and its work to help the North East do more to be inclusive.
“I have always stood out, I’m almost 6ft, black, female lawyer and I’m usually the only black person in the room. Being classed as “other” is not something you notice until you are the only one in the room but being inclusive and having a diverse workforce means that we can be ourselves in any setting that we find ourselves, no matter your race, ethnicity, or background. My mother taught me to be authentic and true to myself so despite standing out as I do, I have always been determined to be brave, and to be myself. My belief is that people are capable of achieving anything when they put their mind to it regardless of their protected characteristics.
“Inclusivity has to be taught from a young age. My children’s home is Darlington and I want them to grow up feeling comfortable here. Everyone should be treated with kindness and respect.”
RED Commission Survey
The Chamber is committed to doing all it can to make the North East the best place in which to build businesses and careers. Last autumn we launched a Commission, to explore what needs to be done to address issues in relation to Race, Ethnicity and Discrimination in our region, to celebrate best practice and to support our businesses to be the most positive, inclusive employers they can be. As part of this work we have launched a short survey to gather your views and experiences of these issues, please fill it in here.