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Magdalen 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.

Magdalen Chambers chose to formalise existing wellbeing related work (support for colleagues) with a policy overseen by a committee and wellbeing officers.

 

Chambers has always been open and constructive towards matters surrounding wellbeing, with informal mentoring partnerships and a collegiate atmosphere.  However, they recognised that the stresses of being a barrister and working in a busy set of Chambers can take their toll and it was important for a policy to be put in place to formalise support available.

 

What was the business (other case) for action?

The business case for action originated from the following:

  • Chambers has a reputation for being a friendly and approachable set and they wanted to emphasise this through work on wellbeing.
  • Recognition that many members/staff will suffer in silence and encouraging an open and frank dialogue goes some way to reminding everyone that Chambers is a source of support to all that work or have an affiliation with it.

Any improvement in the atmosphere within Chambers, promoting awareness and understanding of each other’s roles, compliance with our legal obligations and, of course, the financial case in reducing absences, all contribute to creating a business case for action.

What did the Chambers do?

Wellbeing Committee: Chambers created a wellbeing committee which had representatives from members of chambers and staff.

Wellbeing Audit/Review: Chambers undertook a wellbeing review of staff and members asking what the most positive or negative aspects of their job or practice were; and how this impacted on their wellbeing. They asked for suggestions as to how chambers could support them in making improvements.  They received a healthy response and all responses informed the formulation of their wellbeing policy.

Wellbeing Policy: The committee developed a wellbeing policy and created a notice board for wellbeing issues/resources/activities. They also appointed two dedicated wellbeing officers.

As part of the policy, Chambers have introduced more regular practice meetings between the clerks and members for issues to be better dealt with and managed.

Working with Third Parties: Chambers registered with organisations including Mind to access resources available.

Other activity:

Fundraising/Charity Work: Chambers encouraged members and staff to get involved with local fundraisers such as The SW Legal Support Trust sponsored walk and legal bake.

Pro Bono Volunteering: Chambers encouraged members to actively support the local PSU, Law clinic at the University and encouraged members to volunteer for the Exeter Family Court Clinic which works with the PSU and was set up by one of chambers’ wellbeing officers.

Other volunteering: members were also encouraged to support the local Pathways to Law scheme by run Exeter University for the Sutton Trust designed for talented low-income A-level students.

Future activity includes:

  • Wellbeing Wednesday which will include lunch time gatherings which will give an opportunity for members and staff to engage and relax. This will also include events which include guest speakers.
  • Training courses on stress and time management and topics such as mindfulness, nutrition and coaching.
  • Various social events will be organised with more planning being given to those whose time out of normal working hours is restricted.
  • Expansion of Friday drinks in chambers which are currently enjoyed by the clerks’ room to mark the end of the working week to include members to promote inclusion and team spirit.

“Great to see Magdalen Chambers formalising its wellbeing policy and approach and trying out new ideas and initiatives. Particularly commendable is recognition that you need to get the basics right – regular practice review – as well as introducing new ideas like Wellbeing Wednesday!”

Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group

What were the results?

Mental health and other wellbeing matters can feel isolating and so coming together and hosting a range of activities to raise awareness is rewarding.

 

Tips

  • Do not forget that sometimes it is the little, simple changes which make all the difference.
  • Policy is important – setting the intention and making changes/improvements where necessary.
  • See what works and what does not – be ready to change and adapt – no one size fits all approach.

When members and staff come together to celebrate success it acts as a real morale booster.

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