Business Editor John Duckers looks at how new Birmingham Law Society president Richard Follis views change in the profession...
Birmingham Law Society president Richard Follis knows a bit about being in the media - he was once a Post & Mail copy boy on Saturdays.
One of the highlights was making the tea and he has fond memories of his time spent around journalists.
Today, though, he is far more likely to be found acting in medical compensation claims, and there have been some high profile ones of late.
He is a partner in Solihull firm Alexander Harris and specialises in clinical negligence.
But now he finds himself grappling with the problems affecting his whole profession.
And he believes "the big issue" is to get more youngsters in from ethnic backgrounds - easier said than done though.
"Everyone knows that in ten years time 50 per cent of Birmingham's population will be of non-white origin," he notes.
"Do nothing and by then we won't have any recruits."
And doing nothing would see the law close its eyes to the possibility of opening up new markets too.
The ethnic community need lawyers just as much as their white counterparts.
He suggests that only a few firms have got the grips with the challenge, singling out Birmingham-based Wragge & Co as a shining example.
It, he says, is doing a "wonderful" job.
Mr Follis says he wants to "start a debate" about diversity and is looking at the possibility of a conference next spring in conjunction with lobby group Birmingham Forward.
I challenge him on the relevance of such an event - after all, hasn't there been enough pontificating, isn't it time for action?
But he believes you have to begin somewhere.
"Unless you start to make it part of people's vocabulary and lives how are you ever going to do it?" he insists. "That has to be part of the thinking."
However, it seems it is wrong to generalise about the ethnic community.
Mr Follis pointed out that more women are now joining the law then men, and he went on: "We are doing well with Asian females. Their written work is excellent and their commitment is phenomenal."
It is Afro- Caribbeans where the major failure lies.
Mr Follis believes the profession must get into the schools to spread the message as well as persuading youngsters to have spells in law offices to experience what goes on.
He acknowledges that taking them for perhaps two weeks at a time on work experience can be expensive, but reckons there are other approaches to cracking the problem.
And as a start he suggests getting school kids in for an hour or so on a Friday in the post room.
Something that might begin to open their eyes to possibilities of a law career.
"We need to raise ambitions. We have to get them thinking - I can do that job. We have to take a long term view of it." Mr Follis says the failure to embrace diversity has seen Birmingham lawyers miss a trick.
"There are whole sections of Birmingham society not accessing legal advice," he warns.
The Bangladeshi and Somali communities are two examples.
Raising awareness of the need for more lawyers from ethnic backgrounds is not some sort of moral crusade, he says.
It is a simple "business opportunity".
And he cites how, for example, a firm taking on a Bangladeshi trainee can suddenly find a whole new sector of work that had previously gone untapped.
After all, lawyers are nothing if not commercial beings.
One route into the law has traditionally been as a paralegal - those who back up the fee-earning lawyers.
Many have gone on to sit exams and become fullyfledged solicitors in their own right.
But others find their way blocked - a para-legal can only ever reach the rank of associate in a law firm. They are banned from being partners.
However major change is taking place in the law following the Clementi Report and it is likely soon that para-legals will be able to make it all the way.
Mr Follis says he welcomes that.
As for women, most people accept that big progress has been made, but there is some way to go.
The issue is now more about how far women are allowed to go in the profession - taking time out to have children can keep a ceiling on their ambition.
Surely, I ask, you cannot expect men to somehow put their career aims on hold in the interest of allowing more women to make the top echelons of power?
Mr Follis accepts the point. But he believes there is what he calls "a subliminal attitude to women" that does need to change.
He thinks it is foolish to forsake the skills of those who have opted for a career break and children.
They need to be encouraged back and offered opportunities.
As for Birmingham Law Society, it does its own bit for career progression.
It has a thriving £200,000 a year turnover ethical recruitment service which places lawyers in jobs.
It is ethical because once a person is in a job the agency doesn't then go back later tempting them to move.
"We never solicit," says Mr Follis.
Solicitors who never solicit...now there's a new one!