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.
Park Square Barrister (‘PSQB’) have provided access to a therapist via a hotline. This is backed by policy, education and a range of other initiatives including Pilates, massage, mindfulness mentoring at critical career points and lots of opportunities for chambers members and staff to socialise.
A barrister in Chambers had personal experience of struggling to prepare a case that was particularly traumatic. A therapist that the barrister knew on a personal level gave some practical tips that they found useful. The member thought that many other members of Chambers would find such assistance of use to them and making access to this type of assistance easier was crucial given the difficulty and potential stigma many perceive in accessing mental health facilities.
There was also a wider recognition that increased digitalisation has meant that the informal networks that have promoted wellbeing historically (such as “Mess” or “Tea” in Chambers in the afternoon) have been eroded and that new initiatives need to be in their place, or these older initiatives need to be re-introduced for the support they provide.
What was the business (other case) for action?
Park Square Barristers (‘PSQB’) is aware of the importance of promoting good mental and physical health as members, pupils and staff work under tremendous pressure. They believe it is in Chambers’ best interest to ensure that members and staff feel cared for and valued.
PSQB believe that any focus on wellbeing will also have the added benefit of supporting retention and will help its members work at a capacity that is right for them (performing better as a result).
Overall, Chambers wanted their wellbeing strategy and work to:
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?
Access to a Therapist: Chambers has made the advice of a therapist available to members, staff and pupils via a confidential hotline, paid for by Chambers.
This was the launch pad for discussing and dramatically extending PSQB’s wellbeing programme of activity.
Budget: Budget has been made available to support access to a therapist (hotline) and other initiatives.
Awareness Raising and support in teams: PSQB have raised awareness within Chambers of the importance of wellbeing. Specific teams have allocated wellbeing representatives to ensure that assistance is provided, with a structure in place within each team.
Mentoring: There is a drive to mentor those returning to work from periods of absence, for example maternity leave or periods of ill health or bereavement.
Chambers has also:
“It is great to see PSQB’s therapist hotline initiative getting such a positive response in chambers. Overall, they have adopted a broad range of excellent initiatives for which they have built support in chambers. They are to be commended for making such a commitment to the wellbeing of their members.”
Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group
What were the results?
PSQB has found that the response and take up of wellbeing initiatives has been positive. In particular, the extent of uptake of the “hotline”. This demonstrated a real need for the service amongst staff and members.
Provision of budget to support activity has also been welcomed.
Several members of Chambers who had taken periods of time away from the profession due to personal circumstances have particularly appreciated the support that Chambers is now providing to them in returning to work.
Chambers has also:
Accept a minority may greet new wellbeing-based initiatives with a degree of mockery; the response from the vast majority of Chambers and clients has however made them realise that this is important and valuable to Chambers success. So, our tip is ‘press on!’
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.
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