The Midlands Asian Lawyers Association (MALA) is a non-profit organisation based in Leicester and Birmingham, organising events throughout the Midlands.
We run networking and career development events across the region and raise money for good causes. We are an inclusive body and we proudly welcome people of all backgrounds to our events.
MALA is run by a committee of practicing solicitors and barristers who volunteer their time to make MALA a success. MALA is a community organisation and aims to:
Promote diversity and equality in the legal profession
Promote Asian and BME lawyers in the profession and organise networking and professional development events for their specific needs
Build relationships with the wider profession and the judiciary, to promote diversity and incusivity in the profession
Promote the legal profession to BME children and schools with largely BME or inner-city areas
Organise social events for lawyers
Speak for Asian lawyers and represent their interests
Provide a platform for education, community and professional development
MALA is entirely run by volunteers and funded by ticket sales and sponsorship. It is a completely independent organisation, with no commercial ties to any other organisation. MALA has been widely supported by hundreds of lawyers, of all backgrounds, who have attended its events, especially its flagship Annual Ball. Previous guests speakers have included Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, Her Honour Judge Dhir QC, His Honour Judge Hammond, His Honour Judge Mota Singh, District Judge Afzal OBE, the renown Imran Khan of Imran Khan & Partners and also, former Chief Prosecutor Nazir Afzal OBE. In 2019, Lord Justice Singh gave the keynote speech.
In 2018, District Judge Afzal OBE became MALA's President.
Judge Afzal is a trailblazer when it comes to widening access to the profession as well as the bench. He was the country's first blind judge, widely respected both in practice and now as a judge, he is a fantastic example of the judiciary's commitment to diversity and inclusion in the profession.
MALA began as part of the Society of Asian Lawyers (SAL), one of the first (if not the first) organisation created to foster relations between BME lawyers. In the 1970s, when SAL was established, the legal profession was far less inclusive and BME solicitors and barristers faced significant obstacles in building their practices or even working. It was felt that a space was needed for people with the same backgrounds to meet, share experiences and collectively promote the concept of a diverse legal profession, far before that concept became mainstream.
MALA grew out from SAL as a testament to the growth of the Asian legal profession in the Midlands, which required a dedicated organisation to meet its needs in the Midlands itself. As a result, MALA was established in 2004 and for many years was headed by Nirmal Shant QC, who was subsequently appointed a Circuit Judge.
MALA has always fostered collaboration between the legal profession; its committees always being composed of solicitors and barristers. Further, its events are inclusive and welcoming, reflected in the turnout which is approximately equally made up of BME and non-BME attendees.
Lawyers find MALA events to be vibrant, unpretentious and dynamic. We aim to provide a place for lawyers to socialise, network and enjoy themselves.
MALA delivered its 14th Annual Ball in 2019, selling out over 550 tickets. Its first ball in 2005 had 100 seats and was held at City Rooms. The success of the Ball is an enduring example of MALA's striving legacy in the Midlands legal community.
In 2019, MALA relaunched its professional development seminars and collaborated with the Law Society, 23 Essex Street, No 5 Chambers, St Philips Chambers, Women in Criminal Law, True Honour, the Leicestershire Law Society, the Judicial Appointments Commission and many individual solicitors and barrister. It organised 4 events in Birmingham and 6 in Leicester, in addition to its flagship Annual Ball in Leicester.
Additionally, MALA has raised almost £60,000 for charity. In 2019 alone, it raised over £8,000 for charity, supporting their work in the Midlands. MALA also raises awareness of local good causes at its Annual Ball by promoting individual giving to chosen charities.