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Cloisters Chambers

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

Cloisters decided to promote well-being as individual pressures caused by ever busier professional lives, growing families and a renewed emphasis on the dangers of excessive stress on professionals, made them realise that they needed to take active steps to support one another within our workplace.

 

What was the business (other case) for action?

Cloisters is a medium sized with a range of civil practitioners, some much more court based than others. Some barristers work at home, some mainly in chambers.

Chambers has 15 staff – all have flexible working options and health cover etc. but they recognised staff would welcome well-being initiatives and this was a key part to establishing a strategy and programme of activity.

Their business case for action was therefore based partly on being a good employer, and partly on raising awareness among barristers of the benefits of reducing stress and anxiety that everyone experiences from time to time

What did the Chambers do?

PROPOSALS AND ACTION

Cloister’s  management committee provided  £500 to get the ball rolling to establish a series of events to raise awareness of wellbeing.

Cloisters’ first event focused on those balancing work with caring responsibilities and was advertised as follows:

“What do I do when the buck stops with me to look after my children?”

 As part of my well-being programme I want to invite you to an evening where we are going to take stock and share coping methods in a supportive and confidential environment. We have many colleagues who are going on maternity leave and are recently returned from career breaks, so I think it vital to share tried and tested methods as well as posing new questions for combining the various responsibilities in our lives: professional, domestic and other.

This evening is for those who are sole parents, primary parents or those with a 50/50 share of family responsibilities. We will have other events in 2018 dealing with other kinds of working pressures, but I think there is a significant need to take stock at the end of this calendar year with regard to this particular type of work-life balance.

Please come and join us for confidential discussions with good quality food and wine in chambers ….”

It was a very successful event which will be repeated in a lunchtime this summer.

Cloister also trialled a massage day which was extremely successful where Chambers met the full costs.

On the back of these two successful events, Cloisters’ management committee provided a budget of £2,500 for activity. The following events have now been planned:

 

  1. further subsidised massages. Asking barristers (not staff) for £10 contribution towards a 15-minute massage – which ideally can be billed internally. Staff will not be asked to pay. They propose to run 10 massage sessions on this basis over the year
  2. a personal trainer doing a “stretching” 30 mins (repeated twice in 1 day. many people in Chambers would appreciate a break from computer and more flexibility to release back tension. (The workshop could be done in work clothes – no need to change.)
  3. 2-3 sessions with a life-coach / expert in managing stress – this will be popular across Chambers; it’s been used in other chambers very successfully.
  4. mentoring sessions including “ask the senior barrister anything you like” and advice sessions about applying for silk and Judicial appts.
  5. Repeating our successful work-life balance session for primary parents.

Cloisters also send out a monthly bulletin rounding up different talks and relevant articles.

What were the results?

One experience of our interventions so far is the care needed to deal with the businesses which have approached me to seek out business, for example many massage companies are now emailing us.

For Cloisters barristers and staff, we have found one of the most beneficial things we can do is stop and share experiences and tips about how to cope with modern living. The benefits gained from doing that so far, are as valuable as the actual subject matter of talks and events.

Our initiatives are still in their infancy but one issue we need to think about going forward is given our size the balance between drawing members’ attention to existing talks and programmes as opposed to running events in-house

“Cloisters demonstrate a well-considered and thoughtful approach to well-being, offering a range of events and interventions, and piloting events to test the response.”

Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group

Tips

One experience of our interventions so far is the care needed to deal with the businesses which have approached me to seek out business, for example many massage companies are now emailing us.

For Cloisters barristers and staff, we have found one of the most beneficial things we can do is stop and share experiences and tips about how to cope with modern living. The benefits gained from doing that so far, are as valuable as the actual subject matter of talks and events.

Our initiatives are still in their infancy but one issue we need to think about going forward is given our size the balance between drawing members’ attention to existing talks and programmes as opposed to running events in-house.

 

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