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20 Essex Street Chambers

This case study may be useful if you are looking for examples of increasing awareness of wellbeing, developing resilience training schemes and/or promoting wellbeing initiatives.

20 Essex Street has introduced a range of initiatives which support practice development through training as well as a range of eye catching initiatives like rooftop yoga and Pilates at your desk. Dedicated member and committee support is now being put in place to give oversight of their wellbeing programme.

What was the business (other case) for action?

By introducing wellbeing initiatives 20 Essex Street aims to improve internal workplace satisfaction and reduce absence. They believe this will lead to increased work output in terms of volume and quality.
They also believe wellbeing supports a positive external perception of Chambers and has the potential to attract work and members/staff.

What did the Chambers do?

Governance & Policy approach
20 Essex Street has created a Chambers’ Wellbeing Statement of Intent, this is a short statement of principles, with links to well-established policies which support members and staff wellbeing.
Wellbeing is currently overseen by the Equality & Diversity Committee which has appointed two welfare officers.
This approach is intended as a precursor to a longer policy backed by a more formal wellbeing committee structure and appointment process for welfare officers.

Mentoring
Chambers also has in place a mentoring scheme for Members of Chambers.

Employee Assistance Programme
All arbitrators, barristers and staff have been enrolled on the Health Assured EAP scheme for helpline support.

Other wellbeing related initiatives:
Providing weekly Thursday evening drinks and chambers morning tea (every term) to encourage members to get together.

  • Introducing tailored, small group professional development training; training business development staff on working together to improve collaboration, communication and networking.
  • Offering all barristers and staff weekly yoga sessions in-house (in the Summer these take place on the roof to further promote health by boosting vitamin D levels).
  • Initiating a Wednesday lunchtime running club along the river bank for a weekly bout of group exertion and chat.
  • Offering barristers and staff an opportunity to attend a ‘Pilates at Your Desk’ workshop in-house which looked at exercises which can be done at your desk and advice for better posture to improve movement and comfort.
  • A nutrition workshop is also planned for those interested with practical advice on how to make the best choices in individual circumstances.

“20 Essex Street has introduced a great range of initiatives which include access to counselling and a helpline (via an EAP), professional development as well as roof top yoga and Pilates at your desk! Good to see plans are in place to further develop policy and governance of the programme in chambers.”

Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group

What were the results?

  • Barrister and staff engagement in activities has increased.  More varied opportunities to get-together has led to a greater sense of community and collaboration.
  • Professional development which is easy to access, physically and financially, means barristers and staff can learn skills/techniques to be more time efficient leading to more time for leisure and family. This has helped in terms of staff recruitment and retention.
  • Starting work after yoga has led to feedback such as “It was a really nice start to the day and it’s so nice to have this as a Wellbeing initiative. Love a bit of yoga!”, “enjoyable morning yoga session. I feel like I’ve had a workout – but also relaxed and limber.”

Tips

Don’t:

  • Implement initiatives all at once. Many working environments are conservative by nature and will question or be sceptical if proffered too much at once. Gradual roll out will organically instil a culture of wellbeing and support.
  • Force anyone to attend. Not everything is suitable to everyone. Quite often peer feedback leads to buy-in.

Do:

  • Build a small team of dedicated people to push the initiative forward.
  • Canvas ideas and interview a range of suppliers for any training. Each supplier will have a distinctive style which may/not offer the best approach to your workplace. It also promotes buy-in from the community internally knowing that the market has been reviewed to ensure the most suitable contractor is supporting their needs. You will also be amazed at the connections everyone has which can lead to discounted or even complimentary services.
  • Remain determined; once momentum begins, the programme and enthusiasm will build on itself.

The information and resource packs on this website are designed to help you and your colleagues to work as a community for better wellbeing and professional resilience. If you want to provide feedback on these resources, or to get involved in promoting wellbeing please get in touch.


Get in touch Policy & practice

It can be difficult to make a living from law and it can be pressurised and demanding. Competition and an adversarial approach to everything can make collegiate relationships difficult. This website aims to provide you with the knowledge to manage these stressors, make emotionally informed, wise professional decisions and thrive in your chosen profession.

A simple expression that sums up wellbeing is ‘travelling well’

Psychological wellbeing within the profession is rarely spoken about