“All Rise” is the product of discussions that the four of us had whilst participating in the Bar Council Leadership Programme in 2020/21. Whilst discussing our wider group project as to how we could encourage further diversity and inclusivity at the Bar, the four of us started to discuss the notion of the “active bystander” and if, and how, we could do something simple but sustainable, which could represent in a single gesture that we will not tolerate bad behaviour (harassment, belittling, bullying etc) against barristers from fellow members of the Bar and the Judiciary.
Hence, the pin. It is a simple idea but one which we believe has force. The pin itself is made from wood and bears a black circle which has appearing within it the words “All Rise” and the familiar barrister’s collar. It also comes with a bookmark printed on recycled card, which sets out two short points:
1. The pin is a symbol of allyship.
2. The wearer commits to noticing and standing against belittling, bullying, discriminatory and unacceptable behaviour at the Bar.
Although related, these points have distinct aims. As a symbol of allyship it demonstrates to others that we encourage diversity of race, culture, religion, sexual orientation etc, and that we are an inclusive profession. The other aim is to demonstrate a commitment to notice and stand against bad behaviour.
Both these aims are grounded in the belief that meaningful and sustainable change to the attitudes and behaviours is achievable. The behaviour we are talking about is not necessarily serious misconduct, in respect of which we keep in mind our reporting obligations under the BSB Code of Conduct. The behaviour we want to address ranges from the very serious to the subtle, which in one instance may be shrugged off or overlooked by the person experiencing it but, in another instance, it may have an enduring detrimental effect on the individual.
Events in wider society over the last few years e.g. - #metoo and the Black Lives Matter movement – show us that we cannot allow within the Bar, behaviour which outside of it, wider society is actively condemning. If unchallenged, this behaviour serves to undermine the professionalism and credibility of the Bar as a whole.
The confidence to wear the pin and the ability to speak out will be different to the individual depending on the context and we do not suggest that it is always appropriate or safe to take a stand in the moment. Our hope is to encourage and equip individuals to feel able to be actively intolerant of bad behaviour in whichever way they feel able.
Research shows it takes 25% of society to effect societal change and with this in mind our aim is to see 25% of the Bar (c. 4,000) wearing the pin and/or using the bookmark. In order to facilitate the production and sale of the pin/bookmark we set up an “Open Collective” account through the Social Change Nest, which is a transparent platform that ensures all contributions/donations are openly held. The pin and bookmark cost £1.25 to manufacturer and can be bought at that price.
Bigger donations/contributions can also be given. We have partnered with “Wellness at the Bar” and received several sponsorships from a number of chambers, not to mention the wide spread of individuals who have openly stood with us. We have been taken aback at the level of support we have received, which has been so great that we have already reached a point where we have received donations in excess of the pins/bookmarks ordered. This means that we can use those funds to send out pins/bookmarks more widely e.g., to other chambers, SBAs and the Inns etc. We also hope to be able to contribute to wider projects e.g., “active bystander” training for chambers and are looking into how we can facilitate this.
All in all, it has been a really encouraging start and we hope that this is just the beginning of something much bigger.
We would encourage you to follow us on twitter: @allrisethebar1 and on our LinkedIn page. If you do want to stand with us, then please also consider donating at www.opencollective.com/all-rise-the-bar. We are kindly being assisted by Hardwicke Chambers who are undertaking the postage and distribution for us, for which we are most grateful.
Lydia Pemberton is a barrister at 3PB