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Goldsmith Chambers

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

Goldsmith Chambers demonstrate the advantages of starting small with a ‘Reflection and Mindfulness Practices Group’ and building support and acceptance.

They recognise that long-term satisfaction and efficiency depend on fostering a positive mental attitude and finding tools to manage the ongoing stresses of life at the Bar.

What was the business (other case) for action?

Their well-being initiative grew from a desire to unify members of chambers through their shared experiences and to promote a positive and supportive atmosphere in which people could learn from one another, and from professionals, about how to enjoy life and thrive as a barrister.

What did the Chambers do?

Their Wellbeing project began with informal monthly ‘Spirituality and Reflection’ group meetings (set up by Christabel McCooey, a junior tenant in chambers; these meetings were open to all members, staff and pupils, and they discussed philosophical ideas about various outlooks on life.

They then recruited a Mindfulness tutor to conduct a 10-week course at chambers, teaching members the basics of mindfulness, breathing techniques, and general stress management. Their tutor is an ex-Crown Court Prosecutor of 20 years standing so has tailored the course to suit barristers. Staff also benefit from this course.

 

A number of these sessions were conducted in Temple Church gardens during summer for the added benefit of being outside among nature.

Other members have written articles on Well-Being at the Bar to encourage the continuing dialogue about this issue.

They now intend to expand their initiative to include further in-house courses, a Wellbeing WhatsApp group, yoga, outdoor activities, chambers events and talks.

“Goldsmith Chambers demonstrate the advantages of starting with a small initiative (mindfulness) and gradually building acceptance and support within chambers through participants’ own experiences.”

Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group

What were the results?

The results of the Mindfulness course have been a marked improvement in attendees’ ability to recognise when they are stressed and utilise breathing and relaxation techniques as needed.

It has also been a catalyst for camaraderie between members and strengthened existing friendships as well as fostering new ones.

Their Wellbeing initiative is becoming a unifying force within chambers with the potential to enrich the professional and social lives of members and staff, regardless of their practice area or status.

Tips

  • Start small – you don’t need a fully-fledged strategy in place before you start; you can tailor your approach as your initiative progresses.
  • Don’t be shy – there is a cultural shyness and reluctance to speak about ‘softer’ issues of stress/life-balance; don’t let this stop you from raising your ideas for Wellbeing within your chambers.
  • Keep perspective – cases come and go but finding a sense of stability and calm throughout will enhance any practice; barristers find wellbeing principles all the more meaningful when tools and ideas around the importance of wellbeing comes from within 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.


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