Wellbeing at the Bar

Wellbeing and mental health should be a priority for barristers and their chambers. Despite this, personal experiences of difficulties in those areas are rarely spoken about within the legal profession.

The Association has been recognised for all our wellbeing work and we received a Certificate of Recognition from the Bar Council in November 2017.

Wellbeing ChBA/IBC Best Practice Policy

The Chancery Bar Association and the Institute of Barristers Clerks have published a Best Practice Policy for Wellbeing.  This was launched on 4 October 2017 at a seminar - Manage your working relationship with your clerk.  This policy was updated in October 2018.

The aim of the policy is to improve the way that barristers and their staff manage their relationships and consequently improve health and productivity.  This policy is not intended to be exhaustive but is designed to assist barristers and staff (who include both clerks and other staff who are not clerks) to achieve best practice in this regard. It gives a number of examples of best practice on wellbeing which the association has gathered. It has been drafted by senior clerks, with additional input from chancery practitioners.  Chambers are encouraged to adopt this policy, with their own additions if thought appropriate.  The policy will be reviewed annually so if you do have any comments or suggestions please contact Francesca Compton at admin@chba.org.uk.

In putting together the policy the ChBA noted the results of the survey conducted by the Bar Council in April 2015 - Wellbeing at the Bar - to assess members’ health and well-being and to identify risk factors which may affect their performance. The survey was the first cross-profession survey on this subject and resulted in a record level of responses, indicating the importance of the topic to practitioners. The survey revealed a range of well-being related difficulties experienced across the spectrum of the profession (the results are available to view here).

Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group

The Bar Council has teamed up with the Inns of Court and Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC) to launch the Wellbeing at the Bar Portal (www.wellbeingatthebar.co.uk) – a website to specifically provide support and best practice to barristers, clerks and chambers on wellbeing and mental health issues.

The portal is geared towards giving barristers, clerks and chambers staff access to guidance, tips, support and contacts for help on matters concerning wellbeing. Information on wellbeing events, real-life stories from professionals who share their experiences, sample chambers’ wellbeing policies and activities and useful contact numbers for those needing advice or help on a wellbeing or mental health matter are just some of the resources on the portal.

Employee Assistance Programme

The Bar Council, Institute of Barristers' Clerks, and the Legal Practice Managers' Association currently offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which can be accessed by all self-employed barristers with a practising certificate as well as members of the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC) and Legal Practice Managers’ Association (LPMA).  This can be accessed here.

Chancery Bar Association response:

Collaboratively with the Bar Council working group, the Chancery Bar Association is itself taking steps to support its members and their chambers in this important area, and to normalise investment in well-being amongst its membership, with a number of targeted seminars and talks.

In addition, the Chancery Bar Association continues to develop plans to support its members’ well-being. For example, exercise classes have been made available to members. In addition the Association continues to deliver its mentoring programme. Whilst not directed specifically to wellbeing issues, mentoring has proven to be an important tool in sustaining healthy attitudes in practice - click here for further details of the ChBA scheme.

Useful contact details

Useful contact details are as follows:

LawCare support (freephone from landlines and mobiles): 0800 2796888 (NB the helpline is strictly confidential & does not report on any potential breaches of Code of Conduct discussed during calls).  http://www.lawcare.org.uk/

The Mitchell Practice:   0207 0366180http://www.mitchellpractice.co.uk/

Hormoz Ahmadzadeh: 07946 621276; http://youdoltd.co.uk/