Skip to content

Close

Search

Henderson Chambers

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

Friendship and mutual support are at the heart of Henderson Chambers’ ethos. Members value above all the camaraderie that has existed for many years.

This is evidenced by the fact that, as a set, it can demonstrate high levels of retention. Their Chief Clerk has been with them for over 40 years (he has been Chief Clerk for 27 of them).  Several members of staff have been with them for over 10 years, and 8 of the 12 silks in Chambers started out their careers as pupils at Henderson Chambers.

The reason for this is that members look out for each other and people feel supported, not just in their professional goals, but also with their personal needs and wellbeing.

In recent years, Chambers has focussed on what it can do to preserve and enhance the supportive environment which is so valued.

It is with these factors in mind that Chambers has developed several formal and informal policies and schemes with the specific aim of supporting staff, pupils and members through any difficulties that they may face in their professional life.

This case study lists those policies and schemes, the situations in which they have been used and the positive impact that has had on the people involved.

What was the business (other case) for action?

Chambers has introduced these formal policies and schemes to ensure that all members and staff are able to connect to the system of support at the heart of Chambers life.

Chambers recognises that, beyond professional development opportunities, an essential part of a good working environment is one where people feel supported and that their personal issues, and wellbeing, matter.

 

Their practices, policies and schemes have enabled them to support many individuals through some very challenging personal times. Quite apart from that, there is a clear financial benefit to Chambers in doing so. It has helped with retention as members and staff feel a sense of loyalty to Chambers as a result. Additionally, early intervention has likely helped to reduce the amount of sickness absence due to stress-related illness.

What did the Chambers do?

Henderson Chambers has developed the following formal policies and schemes aimed at fostering a supportive working environment for all:

  • Written feedback for all pupils on each piece of work done throughout pupillage. This ensures that pupils know how they are doing and have a chance to address any issues in good time.
  • Each pupil is paired with one member of Chambers who is not on the pupillage committee. This is to ensure that pupils can raise any issues in confidence and without fear that it will impact on their tenancy prospects.
  • A mentoring system and a package of financial relief for new tenants. This aims to offer pro-active support to new tenants as they are developing their practice.
  • A Chambers-wide gathering open to all members, staff and pupils on Friday evenings. A chambers weekly news is circulated each week. Summer and winter parties take place for members and their families. Various sporting activities. This helps to ensure that members and staff remain connected to their colleagues.
  • A programme of support for sick or retiring staff and members to ensure that they are able to take appropriate amounts of time out and return to work when, and for as long, as they are able.
  • A working group specifically to deal with the issue of parental leave and how members may be supported in returning to practice following such leave.
  • Bereavement counselling, health & wellbeing sessions including managing stress at work for staff.

What were the results?

As a result, pupils, staff and members were supported through the following situations:

  • A long-standing member of staff suffered a period of non-work-related ill health.
    This resulted in 3 ½ months away from work on full pay, with a phased return to work (including reduced days and hours). There was a distribution of existing work-load amongst other members of staff during absence and return. Those members of staff also monitored and engaged with the person to ensure that tasks were manageable and realistic. Additional support staff were employed on temporary basis to assist.
  • A pupil was supported in taking parental leave during pupillage. The pupil was given complete flexibility as to when, and for how long, they wished to take their leave. Arrangements were then made to ensure that they could continue to benefit from the full range of options open to other pupils. Retiring members of chambers have been supported both during the final years of their career and after they have fully retired.

“Henderson Chambers deserves recognition for its focus on pupil and new tenant wellbeing (including financial support and investing in mentoring) and its general approach to members’ wellbeing, including the provision of counselling and flexible work arrangements/return to work support. We particularly like its ethos – that members look out for each other.”

Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group

Tips

 Do
• Friendship, shared values and a culture of mutual support are key.
• Confidentiality. Given that open communication is at the heart of what Henderson Chambers does to ensure the wellbeing of staff, pupils and members it is essential that all matters are handled in absolute confidence.
• Engage key stakeholders e.g. Head of Chambers, Pupil Masters, senior staff and key clients (where appropriate).
• Ensure open communication.

 

• Where there are health concerns be realistic about what can be achieved on phased return to work.
• Set agreeable, realistic & achievable objectives.

Don’t
• Assume that there are no wellbeing issues just because they have not been specifically raised.
• Ignore wellbeing issues raised by staff, pupils and members.

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