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23 Essex Street Chambers

This case study may be useful if you are looking for examples of developing a wellbeing policy, increasing awareness of wellbeing and/or promoting wellbeing initiatives.

23ES put wellbeing at the heart of chambers life by educating members on wellbeing issues, backed up by a wellbeing policy and a clear focus on improving support for members.

The need to positively promote wellbeing arose out of individual experiences of members of chambers which evolved into a collective consensus of the importance of taking the initiative on wellbeing issues.

They are already benefiting with members being more open about the topic.

What was the business (other case) for action?

Chambers recognised that poor wellbeing amongst members and staff was adversely impacting not only the individuals but also the business. Increasing digitisation and growing workloads makes it harder to achieve a positive work life balance for all members of chambers and staff.

Chambers believes that improving wellbeing will have a positive effect on all aspects of chambers business.

What did the Chambers do?

• Developed their wellbeing policy which was ratified at their AGM on 7/10/17 as part of an ongoing review of E & D policies generally

• Initiated a series of wellbeing events (which will continue):
– Awareness raising at a Friday drinks event in chambers
– Seminar workshop ‘Risk, Resilience & Practise Management for Wellbeing at the Bar’ to be held on 12/10/17 in conjunction with a presentation on essential oils and how they have helped one member of chambers find more balance in life
– Trauma and Risk management seminar workshop – planned for 1st February 2018

• Took extra steps to build social cohesion and support, for example by holding monthly drinks events & celebrations to mark the arrival of new people or mark appointments

• Learning and skills development – their Director of Business Administration and Development attended the Wellness for Law conference and dinner and is participating in an online mindfulness course recommended at the conference – see https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/mindfulness-wellbeing-performance

• Adding wellbeing to their pupillage training programme

• Members returning from parental leave or from a career break will be matched with an appropriately “qualified” mentor, who has experience of similar circumstances.          – They have devised a programme of support for a barrister returning to practice after over a decade away from practice
– They have two mentors for our junior tenants who are more experienced and can act as a support and as a resource of experience/knowledge

• Pupils and very junior tenants use social media to create a mutually supportive “safe space” for discussion.

“Recognising a strong case for action, 23 Essex Street Chambers has invested in educating members on wellbeing issues, including embedding wellbeing into pupillage training, backed up by a wellbeing policy. Worth noting is their recognition of the importance of mentoring and promotion of social support in chambers. ”

Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group

What were the results?

The programme is ongoing, but so far, they have observed the following positive outcomes

  • Members have started to share their experiences in relation to maintaining good mental health. There is a new openness about the topic and has led to greater communication about ways in which members have addressed their own health problems
  • An increased recognition across Chambers of the need for a true work life balance and that this balance is unique to every individual

They have embedded wellness as a core consideration for Chambers.

Tips

  • Recognise a change in attitudes and practice can be better achieved in incremental steps rather than by revolution. For too long wellbeing and mental health issues have been at the bottom of the agenda and regarded as the sole problem of the individual experiencing them. This cannot be changed overnight without risk of being dismissed as the latest “fad”. By taking time to bring wellbeing issues into the open we have found that greater openness is encouraged as members of chambers reflect on what wellness means for them.
  • Get this issue on the table at management level – and make sure those in a management role are educated about the adverse consequences of failing to act. If wellbeing is taken seriously at the highest levels in the organisation then there is a far greater chance of change for the better.

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