Bar Wellbeing

Re-wiring the law

Rachel Spearing introduces the UK’s first Wellness for Law Forum

March saw the launch of a new initiative to support ongoing work to improve health and wellbeing at the Bar. 

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Raising wellbeing

Benchmark your budding best practice: putting mental health firmly on the chambers agenda is the right thing to do and benefits the bottom line

Fiona Fitzgerald offers a practical view from a chambers CEO: Bar is no longer behind the curve

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Wellbeing at the Bar portal

The online support portal for barristers’ wellbeing and mental health has gone live

A new portal giving barristers, clerks and chambers staff access to guidance, tips, support and contacts for help on all matters concerning wellbeing was launched on 15 October at the Annual Bar Conference. 

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Diversification

Richard Atkins QC on why it’s never too late to diversify – particularly with a barrister’s skillset

In 2011, at the second time of asking, I took Silk. 

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Equality ahead

Time for the Bar to rise to the equality challenge and find more effective ways for women to stay on in the profession, argues Fiona Jackson

In July the Bar Standards Board (BSB) published Women at the Bar, a report of its survey of all practising female barristers on the implementation and effectiveness of the Equality Rules that came into force in 2012. 

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Calm at the centre

With Bar wellbeing firmly centre stage, Mark Hatcher meets the preachers of the Inns to examine what they can offer to barristers – of all faiths and none

‘The Bar can sometimes feel a lonely place,’ says Rachel Spearing, a criminal practitioner who has played a leading role in the Wellbeing at the Bar initiative. 

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The magic of mentoring

Joanne Wicks QC, Grace Ong and Lucinda Orr outline the benefits of mentoring for barristers 

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Maternity mentoring pilot seeks to halt loss of talented women

The Bar Council has launched a maternity mentoring scheme to help barristers return to work after having children.

Barristers who are about to start a family will be paired up with a ‘more experienced parent who has been through the whole process and has returned to a flourishing career’ to get advice, guidance and information.

The scheme, which will be available to all parents and carers irrespective of gender, will initially be piloted for one year.

Bar Chairman, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, said: ‘The self-employed nature of much of our profession makes it harder to take time out and return to work after becoming a parent.

‘Equally, many employed barristers will look to their representative body, the Bar Council, for support. Parenthood should not mean an end to a flourishing career at the Bar.’

One anonymous barrister commented: ‘Women at the Bar need this support at a time when they are torn between their career and having a baby. They need to know that they are not alone, that they can maintain a career and a family if that is what they want and that the world will not end if a child develops chicken pox on the morning of an important hearing.’

She added: ‘I found the experience of having children cut me off from the Bar and returning after having a baby made me anxious and stressed.’

For more information about the programme, e-mail Mentoring@BarCouncil.org.uk.

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Bar Council launches new flexible working template

Rent cuts for barristers working reduced hours or away from chambers because of care responsibilities are among proposals in a new guide published by the Bar Council.

The nine-page Flexible Working Guide aims to provide chambers with a model template for operating flexible working methods.

It seeks to address concerns about the loss of talented individuals from the Bar due to insufficient family-friendly policies and outlines possible ways to retain those who might otherwise seek employment elsewhere.

The scheme is the latest initiative aimed at supporting barristers’ wellbeing. The Bar Council also produces a series of guides aimed at improving the workplace, covering fair recruitment, sexual harassment and parental leave policies.

Bar chairman, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, said the Bar needs to retain talent and accommodate those who need to work flexibly in a way that makes financial sense.

She said: ‘Although the self-employed Bar should, in theory, have the flexibility to work as and when they wish, the reality is very different. Many chambers, under financial pressure, require certainty over income generated through rent and expenses. This can make it difficult to work flexibly.’

Doerries added, however: ‘It’s going to take more than filling in the gaps on a ready-made policy to make it work and our guide gives other advice and tips for chambers considering flexible working.’

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Be upstanding in court!

Optimise performance and manage stress – John Hunter outlines the benefits of the Alexander Technique to the Bar

The long association between F M Alexander (1869-1955) and the theatre dates back to the very origins of the Alexander Technique (AT). 

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