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.
2 Hare Court has created a Wellbeing Programme, with a particular focus on promoting mindfulness in the workplace.
In 2017, it became clear to chambers that changes to the way in which barristers/staff work (increased remote working coupled with almost a requirement for 24-7 contact) had combined with age-old features of the profession (high-stakes litigation and high expectations), to create a working environment that required change.
Chambers recognised that managing wellbeing is as much about prevention as it is about cure and decided to make a concerted effort to:
(1) introduce a range of activities designed to support good mental health and improve resilience;
(2) make sure that anyone who needs professional support will have swift and proper access to it.
What was the business (other case) for action?
Looking after each other is, obviously, ‘the right thing to do’. 2 Hare Court has come to understand better that a good working environment and good mental health are inseparable.
Chambers was particularly interested in promoting mindfulness as a key aspect of wellbeing, where they believed that barristers and staff who are more mindful are better able to manage, are more productive, and foster better long-term relationships with clients.
What did the Chambers do?
Rather, than foist untested or unwelcome initiatives on everyone, they conducted a confidential survey to establish a baseline for the nature and scale of the issues to be addressed and to test the sort of initiatives with which people would be more likely to engage.
Chambers has appointed five Wellbeing Officers – across the call spectrum and including a member of staff – to promote wellbeing and mentoring and to drive forward future initiatives.
They chose not to re-invent the wheel but drew from the experience of others in developing our wellbeing policy. Before drafting, they researched the issue and contacted other chambers directly for advice.
One of the results of the survey was that members felt there was less of a collegiate atmosphere than in the past. Whilst all felt that they could ‘pick up the phone’ to ask advice of senior members of chambers, some felt that the absence created by remote working had left them feeling isolated.
On October 2018, chambers organised a wellbeing event. Speakers were:
2 Hare Court has subscribed to Health Assured. All members and staff (and their family members) now have swift access to confidential counselling services.
Chambers has regular workplace massage sessions to allow all those who are interested to take a break, get away from their screens, and relax in the hands of professionals.
Chambers converted under-utilised rooms to create a comfortable space with good seating and lighting. Tea and coffee facilities, biscuits and fruit are available there at all times. The space is now a dedicated ‘wellbeing room’ and is free for members to meet at other times if they wish. They have monthly get-togethers for cake in addition to other informal chambers events (which are scheduled more regularly than before).
What were the results?
2 Hare Court recognise that their Wellbeing Programme is a work in progress, but can already see that efforts to date are sending a strong message to barristers and staff that wellbeing is important and should be talked about.
People approach the Wellbeing Officers in greater numbers than before with concerns about others.
The massage sessions are over-subscribed. Senior and Junior members now see each other more regularly.
Work and non-work topics are discussed at informal
get-togethers and allow for a strengthening of ties. Contact with members who often work remotely has also been enhanced. Chambers regard this as particularly important.
2 Hare Court believe the perceived change in tone and atmosphere is difficult to measure. The issue for them is to monitor wellbeing efforts at regular intervals and see if they can be improved on. They are determined to keep open minds and not to engage in projects that may look good but, in fact, achieve little.
Critically, they have found that their efforts have encouraged better, more frequent and more meaningful communication. As a result, they are in course of reconsidering our Equality and Diversity policies and procedures and will combine wellbeing with E&D in a Social Responsibility framework.
“2 Hare Court has taken a considered approach to wellbeing, developing a programme based on evidence (following a survey) and drawing on the experience of others in developing policy. They have got the basics right – wellbeing officers, events and access to an employee assistance programme. It is great to see their approach is having an impact in supporting collegiality and that members are clearly comfortable in raising issues and concerns. We’re delighted to award 2 Hare Court their well-deserved certificate and look forward to hearing more on their experience and progress.”
Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group
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.
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