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.
8 New Square has introduced and implemented wellbeing policies within Chambers.
Its aim is to raise the profile of wellbeing issues, to encourage open and free discussion about wellbeing, to put in place structures to promote wellbeing, to identify areas where improvements could be made, and to ensure that mechanisms were put in place to support any potentially vulnerable staff or members of chambers.
What was the business (other case) for action?
8 New Square is committed to encouraging and facilitating working practices that support the health and wellbeing of all staff, pupils and barristers.
Work can have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing. Healthy and well-motivated barristers and staff can have an equally positive impact on the productivity and effectiveness of Chambers.
Conversely mental ill health and stress are associated with many of the leading causes of disease and disability in our society, leading to illness, reduced social wellbeing and lowered productivity.
We therefore felt as a chambers that addressing workplace wellbeing could help strengthen the positive, protective factors of employment, reduce risk factors for mental and physical ill health and increase productivity within chambers. It is additionally important to us that we provide, and are seen to provide, a supportive environment for those working for or within chambers, as well as helping to comply with health and safety and equality obligations.
What did the Chambers do?
In order to raise the profile of, and encourage discussion about, wellbeing issues, as well as to provide structures for identifying and implementing wellbeing strategies, 8 New Square has:
• implemented a formal wellbeing policy;
• incorporated wellbeing issues into the remit of the now Equality, Diversity and Wellbeing Committee (consisting of four members of chambers and two members of staff, meeting approximately quarterly) to ensure its regular monitoring and review;
• appointed Wellbeing Officer to oversee the implementation of the wellbeing policy and to act as a point of contact for anyone in chambers who wishes to raise a wellbeing issue;
• implemented the open, confidential discussion of wellbeing and workflow issues as a fixed item in all staff appraisals and barrister practice review meetings;
• are instigating an informal and voluntary mentoring programme for barristers to support each other, whatever the year of call;
• taken the decision to train those with line- and practice- managerial roles in mental health first aid, to improve chambers’ knowledge of mental health wellbeing best practice, and to try to pick up on any developing issues as early and effectively as possible;
• initiated the process of seeking to identify areas in which chambers is doing well, as well as those where improvements could be made, through a series of confidential one-to-one discussions with staff and members of chambers, to assist in future policy development.
What were the results?
This is just the first step. We feel that we have started the process of bringing wellbeing issues into the mainstream agenda of chambers, and have put in place structural changes to support those in need and to encourage and promote the discussion of wellbeing matters, positive or negative.
As matters move forwards we intend to build on the work so far to foster the identification of areas where improvements could be made, either to remedy potential risks or to build upon what we are doing well, and to implement policies and changes to reflect our learnings.
“8 New Square demonstrate a well thought out approach to wellbeing. We were particularly pleased to see that they now embed wellbeing conversations into regular appraisal and practice review and have trained those with line or practice management responsibilities to support this.”
Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group
Every organisation is different, and barristers’ chambers as a collection of self-employed and frequently competing individuals combined with a joint collective staff presents a very different structure to most commercial organisations; which is one reason why we found information and case studies provided by the Bar Council valuable in providing examples directly from our field.
Our experience and advice is to take matters slowly – do not blindly copy the approach of others but research wellbeing issues generally (beyond the Bar Council, Mind provides a number of interesting and informative publications), and then consider what may or may not be of assistance in your own personal setting. A core feature of wellbeing is the tailoring of the working environment according to the strengths and vulnerabilities of the individual; and the same might be said as to tailoring wellbeing policies to the personality of the individual undertakings concerned.
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