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South Eastern Circuit

This case study may be useful if you are looking for examples of developing resilience training schemes.

South Eastern Circuit has set up regular informal events to encourage barristers and judges to get together to discuss their wellbeing, giving perspectives from both Bar and Bench.

 

This initiative was established to recognise the significant stress on the criminal bar, including fee reduction, 24-7 email and an exponential increase in sexual cases. Reports of stress to both bar and bench meant that the Circuit felt a joint initiative would be helpful.

 

What was the business (other case) for action?

Criminal Law often involves dealing with extremely stressful situations and potentially traumatic information.

The judiciary and bar’s joint wellbeing in criminal law is interdependent. When the bar and bench look after each other in a trial, stress can be reduced for all parties and trials can be more effective.

What did the Circuit do?

SEC introduced cross Bar/Bench meetings (entitled “A view from the Bench”). The Circuit invites a professional speaker to introduce a wellbeing related topic, speaking for about half an hour.  Four Judges also speak for 10 minutes about the topic of wellbeing.

A networking session is available after each event to allow judges and barristers to mix in an informal setting and continue to discuss issues around wellbeing.

To date speakers have covered topics including: vicarious trauma and the British Stiff upper lip, compassion and kindness in the workplace.

The Leader of the Circuit supports this initiative and attends all events; and has encouraged both the membership and the Committee to attend events.

The Circuit:

  • organises venues, catering and drinks with the Inns, who have been willing to waive their hire charges and offer catering at a reduced cost.
  • Contacts judges and professional speakers.

Consent for judges to participate in these events was obtained of the presiding judge of England and Wales and the presiding judge of the South Eastern Circuit.

“Recognising a strong case for action, South Eastern Circuit has focussed wellbeing work to date on an initiative designed to open up conversations about wellbeing between judges and barristers. This demonstrates the key role a circuit can play in tackling a wellbeing challenge for its members.”

Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group

What were the results?

Feedback from the events has been extremely positive. Barristers and Judges have reported that they felt able to discuss wellbeing matters in an informal setting where previously they had not been able to do so.

We believe the events encourage both the judiciary and bar to consider the importance of wellbeing.

The advice and perspective given by all speakers has proved to be worthwhile and very informative.

 

Tips

  • Trial an event with a senior Judge who can seek permission from senior members of the judiciary as to whether such events are permissible. There appears to be different attitudes to this in different practice areas.
  • Sort out events far in advance so that participants have plenty of notice.
  • Ensure that the events are free.
  • Ensure that the Chatham House rule applies at all events so that people can speak freely.

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