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St Pauls 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.

What was the business (other case) for action?

St Paul’s wanted its members to become more aware of the importance of their wellbeing.  They recognised digital working practices, smart phone technology and email have not made the job any easier and were concerned that work/life balance had become a problem for some members. Chambers wanted to encourage better working practices.

What did the Chambers do?

Chambers decided to introduce a structure and policy to support the promotion of wellbeing within chambers.

Committee

Chambers formed a Wellbeing Committee following a Wellbeing at the Bar Seminar. The committee includes a Silk, Senior Juniors, Junior members and the Senior Clerk. St Paul’s felt it was important to get a cross-section of representatives to provide a spectrum of experiences.

Education

St Paul’s felt it was important for committee members to learn about mental health, supporting good health, self-care and general wellbeing initiatives. Committee members were encouraged to learn about the agenda (before establishing a programme of activity).

Raising Awareness

Chambers placed particular focus on increasing awareness and understanding.  To do this they encouraged members to attend Mental Health training courses. They found the Mental Health First Aid course particularly good. They are now encouraging those who have attended Mental Health training to pass on the helpful things they have learned through an internal Mental Health First Aid session in chambers.

Resource Bank

Chambers identified and make available a bank of resources with information on wellbeing and mental health. This included identifying the resources/organisations that could provide support and education, including  Mental Health First Aid England and LawCare.

Creation of a safe and confidential environment

St Paul’s created a space within Chambers to be used exclusively as a breakout area.  It is an environment that can be made private, has comfortable seating areas and the facility to prepare food and drink.  It is not a work zone.

A Telephone Support Line

Chambers’ Wellbeing Committee has made members aware of the Bar Council’s Assistance Programme (access to a confidential telephone helpline and counselling) and has encouraged members and staff to use this facility.

Policy

Chambers has created a wellbeing policy document that now forms part of the pupillage information pack which includes information provided by LawCare on particular pressures and problems faced by those in the legal professions.

Group activities/Mindfulness

Chambers promote mental health and physical health in equal measure.  Group running has become an initiative set up by one of the clerks with the aim of completing a 10K challenge.  Chambers are also looking into options available during the working day to encourage mindfulness.

Mentoring

Chambers has decided to promote mentoring for all. It’s approach is to encourage all members of chambers to provide  advice and support as mentors.

St Paul’s approach to mental health and wellbeing training, and to encouraging members and staff to learn more about wellbeing before implementing a programme of activity is to be commended. Their wellbeing strategy reflects an understanding of the issues and a commitment to getting the basics right.

Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group

What were the results?

Chambers is adopting a cautious approach when assessing impact of activity to date.    Chambers had experienced instances of members and staff displaying symptoms of stress and believe work on this agenda to date is supporting culture change within chambers.  There is a better awareness of how we react and engage with other.  Until we attended the Wellbeing at the Bar Seminar, we did not see a need for change.  It was very useful to hear about the research that had been undertaken by the Bar Council.  It’s a big subject with much stigma attached to it.  There will be the doubters and critics and, but it is these people that really need to embrace everything on offer.

Chambers recognises putting in place support for mental health is as much about changing ways of thinking and is not just a set of implemented activities.

Tips

Dos

  • Get as many members as possible to engage with courses/workshops/seminars.  Get at least one member of the staff and one member of the Bar on the Mental Health First Aid course.
  • Put together a group of people to act as the steering committee for implementing change.
  • Communicate as much as you can with as many members as possible.  Spread the word and try to involve those who resist.  It is those people who  need to be part of the process.

Don’ts

  1. Don’t just have a team bonding session and think that will do the trick.
  2. Try to avoid events that involve alcohol.
  3. Don’t put the onus on one person in chambers to affect a culture change.

Don’t stop communicating with each other.

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