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Deans Court Chambers

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

Core to DCC’s culture is maintaining a team of barristers and staff working effectively together to achieve its strategic aims. Wellbeing at DCC is fundamental to this strategy.
Deans Court Chambers (‘DCC’) demonstrates commitment to driving forward their wellbeing programme through a range of initiatives, backed by consultation and education.

 

DCC have always been proactive in developing policies in line with regulatory and Bar Council guidance. They found the ‘Wellbeing at the Bar’ programme beneficial in helping them take a step back to consider how far they have come in the last 20 years, and what more they can do to improve. In developing their strategy chambers were mindful that practitioners lead busy lives and different personalities/ways of working need to be considered and catered for.

 

What was the business (other case) for action?

DCC recognise the benefits of acting as a reasonable, caring and responsive employer/chambers. In doing so, they consider metrics including staff sickness days; staff remuneration and reward; having strong working relationships; facilitating a sense of community; and clear practice management standards.

What did the Chambers do?

Individuals who had come across wellbeing through their roles in Bar Council and the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks were instrumental in developing the wellbeing programme initially.

Wellbeing Committee
DCC created a committee dedicated to raising awareness and improving wellbeing in Chambers. The committee reviewed the guidance provided on the Wellbeing at the Bar website and met to discuss the best ways to engage DCC and promote wellbeing in Chambers. The wellbeing committee of 8, consists of barristers from a broad spectrum of practice areas, years of call and the Senior Clerk.

Wellbeing Training
The Wellbeing Committee received training in mental health/wellbeing from an external provider to establish what could be improved in chambers and to better understand and recognise how chambers could provide support and help.

External training in ‘Corporate Wellness’ is now in place and will be made available to all.

Wellbeing Questionnaire
DCC asked members a series of wellbeing related questions via an anonymous questionnaire to ensure strategy was based on wellbeing issues identified.

Wellbeing Briefing Note

DCC determined that a formal wellbeing policy would not be the best way forward to assist individual members on wellbeing but that a ‘briefing note’ (limited to one page) that (i) set out objectives and help available; and (ii) encouraged communication and feedback would be more helpful.

The Chambers briefing note addresses issues identified in the questionnaire (above) and signposts sources of guidance and help available both internally and externally. DCC plans to review the note periodically, and it is to be included in the bundle for discussion/review at every Chambers’ AGM.

The wellbeing brief, all activity and initiatives are regularly communicated and easy to access on internal systems. All practice groups are encouraged to contribute to the development of wider policies (supporting wellbeing) as part of DCC overall strategic planning.

Other Activity

  • DCC has a break out room for afternoon tea and coffee for members to unwind and catch up, which the staff also use at lunch times.
  • Regular social drinks in Chambers; annual staff Christmas lunch with all staff, members and former members; celebrating special occasions (seeking feedback on social events to make sure they cater to all)
  • Participation in charity events e.g. legal walk, 10k run; Sponsoring and supporting Client related charitable events; bakes for Macmillan coffee mornings etc.
  • Training for Junior members encouraging feedback in an open and honest manner; and across practice groups
  • Promoting work life balance via diary planning.

“Deans Court Chambers (DCC) have demonstrated a solid understanding of the importance of wellbeing in the workplace with a broad and considered approach to initiatives in line with business strategy. We were pleased to see a conscious DCC ‘twist’ to standard practice (e.g. a briefing note instead of a formal policy) highlighting how chambers can and should adapt their approach to wellbeing to one that fits within their own chambers’ culture and way of working.”

Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group

What were the results?

DCC’s clerks responded directly to issues raised in the wellbeing survey to make improvements in diary management and have worked to obtain papers in good time to allow barristers more preparation time.

DCC are now implementing ways to develop better understanding across, and working relationships within, Chambers. They are looking at more inclusive practices, so nobody feels left out or unable to join an event.

Wellbeing discussions (including at the AGM) have proved a positive experience for chambers.

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.


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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