Trauma risk

Legal professionals face potentially traumatic events every day. This year’s Wellness Forum on 21 June turns to the military, police, medical services and CPS to learn how we can better manage the risks we face at the Bar

 

It is now well known that the content of the material being considered within our professional roles can present a risk of vicarious or secondary trauma. Other risks arise when practitioners themselves face conflict more directly, for example due to the rising number of litigants in person, with the cuts to public funding experienced in some areas of law.

We know from the data gathered during the 2015 Wellbeing at the Bar (WATB) research and more recent feedback from some specialist Bar associations, that the challenges faced by the profession in this area are increasing. The risks of burn out, and impact to our health, wellbeing, and quality of practice, are clearly evidenced in our own, and other front line services. Supporting the profession to understand and manage these risks is one of the priorities for Wellness for Law, a ‘not for profit’ organisation established to assist the working group of WATB in its objectives.

The 2019 forum: trauma risk for law

Wellness for Law will host this year’s forum on the theme of ‘Trauma Risk for Law’, thanks to the sponsorship of The Honourable Society of Inner Temple and the support of University College London’s Faculty of Law facilities at Bentham House.

Our keynote speaker is Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division, who will speak on wellbeing including that of the judiciary. We will hear how those in front line service groups, from the military, police, medical, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, in addition to the Crown Prosecution Service, prepare and respond to the risks of trauma.

WATB wellbeing certificate recipients will present practical guides of the range of recent initiatives, across different practice areas, with practitioners, clinicians and professionals available for networking discussion, to ensure there will be something to learn for every practice group.

Interactive discussion with a Bar leadership panel and practical workshops to support the profession, and those working with the profession, will make the forum a helpful place for returning or new participants to share their concerns, or gain ideas.

Feedback from the 2018 Forum

After attending the 2018 forum, participants have:

  • introduced wellness initiatives to chambers;
  • undertaken mental health first aid training;
  • developed a wellbeing policy in chambers;
  • invited experts to further enlighten chambers on wellbeing issues;
  • attended a supervisor’s course to be a wellness ambassador and arranged future events about wellness at our local professional gatherings; and
  • organised mindfulness training sessions.

100% of those who took the survey were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the organisation of the event; and 100% of those agreed that the content of the forum was ‘relevant’ or ‘very relevant’.

‘Thought-provoking content & a diverse mix.’ ‘Life (& practice) enhancing.’ ‘An inspiration to see what other chambers are doing.’

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

The Forum provides an opportunity for the profession to learn something of the challenges experienced by those identifying as LGBTQ. Research suggests that many individuals identifying in this group experience higher rates of discrimination and challenge to mental health. A presentation and panel discussion will consider these issues amongst the legal profession, with practical guidance for achieving more inclusive environments and safeguards for practitioners.

Friday 21 June: book your place

The Forum is open to everyone with an interest in supporting themselves or others with wellbeing:

 

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Rachel Spearing

Rachel was Chair of Wellbeing at the Bar from 2014-18 and is Convenor of the Wellness for Law Forum. She is a barrister at Serjeant’s Inn practising in criminal and regulatory law.