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.
Landmark offers a range of initiatives and support on wellbeing backed up by strong governance arrangements and policy.
Having experienced the devastating impact that mental health problems can have on an organisation, Chambers decided to take proactive steps to invest in the health of its members, pupil barristers and staff.
Wellbeing priorities are to ensure that:
(i) Chambers’ members, staff and pupil barristers feel well supported both professionally and personally;
(ii) their members can practice comfortably within the area(s) of their choosing, with fair allocation of work opportunities; and
(iii) there is the existence of a clear framework to ensure that serious issues relating to the wellness of any individual in Chambers can be identified, and that individual given appropriate support.
Allied to this is the need to ensure members, staff and pupil barristers understand the options that are available to them should they be suffering from issues impacting their wellbeing, particularly: stress, anxiety or any other form of mental health problem.
What was the business (other case) for action?
They recognise that the unique characteristics of the self-employed Bar mean that, despite being part of a chambers, members tend to work in very isolated environments and therefore tend to suffer more acutely from stress, anxiety and other related mental health problems.
Landmark believes investing in people’s health pays dividends in terms of having a happier, more engaged and more productive workforce. Additionally, taking a proactive stance helps to reduce the stigma attached to mental health problems and sends a positive message to their workforce about the type of culture they are promoting.
They believe strongly that having a wellbeing framework in place which provides internal support to members, pupil barristers and staff and/or, signposts them to specialists who can help them, has a direct financial benefit to chambers. This is achieved through better attendance and availability to undertake work, and a reduction in long-term sickness; particularly chronic conditions relating to mental health and/or addiction.
Having mechanisms in place to detect, and hopefully help, members deal with a range of mental health issues has benefit beyond the positive impact on the individuals’ wellbeing. By addressing issues early on, Chambers will often avoid the significant management time (and cost) required to deal with regulatory issues surrounding an individual’s fitness to practice.
Having experienced first-hand the devastating impact of a wellbeing issue that goes “undetected”, Landmark is committed to play its role in reducing, and eventually eliminating, the stigma associated with acknowledging, accepting, and addressing issues relating to mental health at the self-employed Bar. Over time they believe that this will result in positive benefit for Landmark Chambers’ reputation as one of the few sets at the forefront of challenging the wellbeing status quo.
What did the Chambers do?
Since the formation of Chambers’ Equality, Diversity and Wellbeing Committee (“EDWC”), Landmark has (in roughly chronological order):
• Appointed all members of Landmark’s Equality, Diversity and Wellbeing Committee as Equality and Diversity Officers, Diversity Data Officers and Wellbeing ‘Champions’.
• Carried out a survey amongst Chambers’ members, staff and pupil barristers to establish the extent of any perceived issues (including mental health) and to ask for suggestions as to change.
Findings of the study established members were struggling:
• Under the weight of other people’s expectations of them;
• To understand why any sign of stress should be considered a sign of weakness;
• With the conflict that loving one’s work and one’s family creates, especially when both require such extensive commitment; and
• As a result of life at the Bar becoming increasingly more burdensome, with heavy (almost unmanageable) workloads, shortening deadlines and concerns over the demands placed on them through the introduction of new technologies.
Having listened to their members and staff through the survey results, the EDWC set about developing an action plan that could quickly start to address the issues highlighted in the survey.
The future of the EDWC currently include:
Carrying out a further wellbeing survey to ascertain whether their members, staff and pupil barristers have benefitted from the EDWC’s initiatives and ascertain any further suggestions as to change.
“Landmark Chambers’ approach to wellbeing comes from the heart. Its commitment to the future wellbeing of its members feels very authentic and chambers has clearly taken a comprehensive and considered approach – with attention paid to governance, the benefits of building an evidence base for interventions and ensuring members are engaged – uptake of initiatives put in place to date suggest chambers is getting it right.”
Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group
What were the results?
Whilst they feel that it’s difficult to quantify the benefits gained, they can state with confidence that the initiatives that the Equality, Diversity and Wellbeing Committee has introduced have received a very positive reception.
Substantive examples include the fact that:
Their Chief Executive has also noticed a rise in the number of members that have approached him with upward referrals. This is arguably the most positive inadvertent outcome, as it means that: (i) more of their members, pupil barristers and staff have had the confidence to seek internal assistance when they have experienced stress in the workplace (for example); and (ii) instead of attempting to tackle pastoral care issues themselves and thereby potentially damage their own health and wellbeing, members have recognised the need to consult with someone more qualified and knowledgeable before agreeing an appropriate course of action.
*Please note this figure includes online health portal hits and telephone calls received
• Ensure that your initiatives have the full support of your Management Committee and, where possible, Senior members.
• Attend any external events relevant to equality, diversity and wellbeing to generate ideas and learn from other sets.
• Carry out a Wellbeing Survey to establish the perceived issues and garner suggestions as to change before you start formulating a strategic plan.
• Remember that change will be gradual and that every positive action, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction.
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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.
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