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Devon Chambers

Devon Chambers has always prided itself on being a sociable and friendly set, with barristers often enjoying lunches together and after work drinks. Of course, this became more difficult after March 2020 when fewer barristers were physically attending Chambers, so the commitment to staff and barristers’ wellbeing became paramount.

 

What was the ‘business’ (other case) for action?

Given the Covid-19 pandemic and the reduction in face-to-face contact over many months, the wellbeing of busy barristers has been brought even more sharply into focus. The ability to interact reduced but the work and resultant stress did not. So, to ensure that it was not ‘out of sight, out of mind’, Devon Chambers began raising awareness of wellbeing within Chambers.

The importance of wellbeing of staff and barristers cannot be  underestimated both physically and financially, especially given the unprecedented times experienced over the past two years.

What did Chambers do?

Chambers did the following in order to promote wellbeing:

  • Created a designated role of Wellbeing Officer and a member was appointed, voted on by members of Chambers at the AGM. The Wellbeing Officer is required to provide a report to members of Chambers at the AGM to ensure that wellbeing is always on the agenda for all members.
  • Developed a wellbeing policy circulated to all members.
  • Ensured that Clerks held regular practice review meetings with barristers to ensure there is a constant dialogue and ability to discuss any issues.
  • Encouraged all members to take part in local 5k, 10k or half marathon events. Members were also encouraged to attend to support the team and assist with the celebratory breakfast at Chambers following the races, ensuring an inclusive approach for all members.
  • Held social events throughout the ‘lockdowns’ such as quiz nights and remote drinks. After lockdown finished, Chambers returned to organizing end of term ‘Olympics’ which is a chance for members of Chambers to get together and play games.
  • Recognised barristers milestones or significant life events by holding celebrations in chambers.
  • Took part in a Fantasy Football league. It is great fun and uplifting to read the emails between members of Chambers about this, even if you don’t have a clue about football, or fantasy football.
  • Flexible working: Devon Chambers has listened to the requests of staff. Chambers has been very flexible in agreeing for clerks, who have had their own personal commitments during this difficult time, to work from home despite the end of lockdown or to finish work earlier each week to enable travel to fulfil their own caring commitments.
  • Members of Chambers have joined the Western Circuit Women’s Forum (WCWF) and promote their events and discussions. Offloading in a forum and sharing experiences with others in the same position is vital to wellbeing.

What were the results?

The results of the above initiatives and action have been palpable. Members of Chambers are more open to discussing their own wellbeing and checking in with others.

That said, this is just the beginning and Chambers is committed to reviewing its policies to ensure any necessary improvements can be made.

 

It is great to see the focus in Devon Chambers on keeping members connected, and their attentiveness to supporting barristers and Chambers staff. 

 

Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group

Tips

  • Having an open dialogue about wellbeing ensures that the focus is not lost.
  • It is also important to remember that even small changes, like checking in with a colleague you have not seen for a while can make a difference.
  • The importance of social events, whether it is drinks, entering the running competition or attending the Christmas party cannot be overstated.

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