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Criminal Bar Association

This case study may be useful if you are looking for examples of developing a wellbeing policy and/or increasing awareness of wellbeing.

The working lives of Criminal Barristers have changed significantly, giving rise to an exponential increase in the number, nature and levels of stresses to which members are subject.

The recent shift to digital working in the CJS presents a real threat to the collegiate benefits of traditional working structures. The upward trend in the prosecution of sexual allegations has increased the exposure of the CBA’s members to stressors such as vicarious trauma. The CBA recognises the losses to their profession and the wider community created by poor health and is committed to improving the wellbeing of their members.

What was the business (other case) for action?

The CBA represents the views and interests of 4,500 practising members of the criminal Bar in England and Wales.

Most Barristers are, of course, self-employed. The most prominent consequential risks of this fact to the health of the CBA’s membership are those of isolation and presenteeism. Preventative measures can significantly reduce the instance of presenteeism, which evidentially is responsible for a greater loss of productivity than absenteeism.

The CBA is of the view that it has a responsibility to provide support and guidance to its members, and to implement policies for executive members and employees that accommodate mental and physical health needs, allow for caring responsibilities and promote a proper life: work balance.

The indirect benefits of implementing a wellbeing policy include improvements to the health and productivity of members’ employees, and encouragement to the employed sector to introduce wellbeing measures for their own organisations.

The business case is simple; to assist and provide support that will enable barristers to deal with the increasing stresses of their job.

What did the CBA do?

The CBA has done four things:

  • Created a new post of Wellbeing Director, responsible for promoting awareness of wellbeing initiatives and resources to the Criminal Bar.
  • Developed and published a Wellbeing policy to provide help to members in creating and sustaining safe and healthy working environments. It is anticipated that the resources and support provided by the CBA will grow over time.
  • Set up a CBA Wellbeing Twitter account to promote wellbeing initiatives and resources.
  • Signed up to the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation Guidelines for supporting a safe and healthy legal workplace.

“The CBA clearly recognises its critical role and the need to support members with the introduction of an officer dedicated to its members’ wellbeing, alongside a CBA wellbeing policy. Creating a wellbeing twitter feed is an innovative way to engage with and support criminal practitioners and will we hope help raise awareness of wellbeing issues and encourage members of the criminal bar to recognise and seek help when they need it.”

Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group

What were the results?

The initial response to the CBA initiatives has been positive.

Equally, the volume of responses has shown them how important this work is, how much it was needed, and how much more there still is to do.

Tips

  • Take it in small steps. The amount of work that needs to be done in providing support and assistance to a large group of people is enormous.
  • Concentrate on a few discrete initiatives, monitor them and then expand as required.
  • Build up a network of champions and supporters within your organisation.

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