The Bar of England and Wales is home to some of the most accomplished and talented lawyers from across the globe. This brilliance owes much to the richness in diversity of the profession.

This exhibition celebrates diversity at the Bar and legal profession. It has two main purposes; the first purpose is to record the past. There has been a long tradition of diversity at the Bar, but this tradition has, until this exhibition, been hidden. We attempt to bring these hidden lawyers back to public prominence and their rightful place in history.

The exhibition’s second purpose is to record the present. Teaching Law in London universities for the past 25 years has been a privilege, and also an extremely rewarding career for me. I have seen my students, many who have come from diverse backgrounds, succeed in the practice of Law. However, after visiting the Middle Temple exhibition in 2019, Celebrating a Century of Women, I was profoundly affected by the power of seeing myself as a woman reflected in the images and stories never before displayed in such a way. It occurred to me that my students needed something as similarly powerful, hence the idea for this exhibition.

There has been a great deal of recent academic debate about the use of role models, and the pronouncement that people should not be placed on a ‘pedestal’ and idolised because ultimately as we are all human, and therefore flawed. No one is perfect. There is a truth in this, but nevertheless, my students require role models. They need to see themselves reflected in the profession they aspire to join; this in turn will help them feel welcome and comfortable. Lawyers do ‘look’ like them.  

This exhibition is not finished, indeed it probably never will be, instead it will be added to and evolve with time.

Dedication to Sibghatullah Kadri QC

This digital exhibition on diversity at the Bar is dedicated to the memory of Sibghatullah Kadri (1937 – 2 November 2021). Sibghatullah was a Barrister, QC, Inner Temple Bencher, racial justice campaigner and co-founder of the Society of Black Lawyers. He was a pioneer of diversity at the Bar, challenging race discrimination within both society and the legal profession. Sibghatullah Kadri is a role model for future generations; his life was one of legal excellence, professionalism, vitality, fearlessness, resilience, tenacity, generosity, and inclusiveness. Others may now practice successfully in law because of the trail he blazed. For his biography, click:

Dr Judith Bourne