Starting off in the law can be an uphill battle for any lawyer, but for Sana Viner, who recently qualified into Wragge & Co’s IT and Outsourcing team, the regular challenges were compounded by the fact that she’s visually impaired.
“I had to compete with all the other thousands of people who wanted a training contract,” Viner says. “It’s something every law student really wants.”
However, Viner came up trumps, partly because of what Wragges’ recruitment manager Julie Caudle describes as her “special ability to hold, process and organise data in her head”.
Determined to ensure that Viner’s transition into the legal world went as smoothly as possible, the firm made a small series of adaptations to the workplace. “We had to [make] sure our building was safe for the [guide] dog, and Sana had the right IT support set up for her,” explains Caudle.
Wragges provided a Braille computer for Viner and installed a pen for her guide dog in the basement car park where it can go for toilet breaks. The firm has lifts that announce the floors and have tactile numbers.
“As she cannot see people walking past, we’ve encouraged those who deal with Sana regularly to make a special effort to call out to [her] as they walk by so that she can catch them if necessary,” adds Caudle.
“I had a very positive experience during my time as a trainee,” reflects the newly-qualified lawyer.
“However, there were times when work was challenging due to the volume of documents I needed to read that were not always in an accessible format. In these instances, I would either need someone to read them to me, or to get them typed out or scanned into the computer. My supervisors and colleagues were very mindful of this and endeavoured to send [them] in electronic format,” she adds.
Viner regularly interacts with clients, both in her office and outside. “Clients have been really good, and I’m generally confident meeting people. I’ve found they’ve dealt with me as they would with any other lawyer,” she explains. “Although I have to make certain adjustments in order to do my work, the end product is still the same.”