Support and Wellbeing at the Bar

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Wellbeing at the Bar

The Wellbeing at the bar website is designed to provide support and best practice to barristers, clerks, chambers on wellbeing.

The Wellbeing website also includes dedicated resources for students and pupils offering support and information on a wide range of wellbeing issues including stress, depression and bullying and harassment.

It was launched in collaboration with The Bar Council, Inns of Court and Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC).  

View the Wellbeing at the Bar Report which contains analysis of the research undertaken by the Bar Council into barrister wellbeing (in 2014) which identified risk factors which may impact on a barrister's performance. 

The Inn

The Inn is committed to promoting and supporting the wellbeing of our members. We are consistently working on improving wellbeing facilities for our members, including incorporating wellbeing events into the Qualifying Session and events calendar. The Inn also supports the Wellbeing at the Bar website. 

Confidential pastoral support and guidance is available to our student, pupil and new practitioner members from the Director of Education, Tony Charles. Email Tony Charles.

Barrister members seeking support and guidance should visit the Wellbeing at the Bar website or contact the Under-Treasurer.

The Preacher is available to listen, in complete confidence. Email Bishop Michael Doe and he will send you his home phone number.

The Gray's Inn Barristers' Committee

The Gray's Inn Barristers' Committee (GIBC) organises a series of events throughout the year including Wellbeing at the Bar and Junior Bar events. They also operate a mentoring scheme for second-six pupils and junior barristers.

Read the transcript from the talk delivered by Sir Mark Waller at the GIBC wellbeing event in September 2017:

Charlie Waller Memorial Trust

The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust was set up in 1997 in memory of Charlie Waller, a young man who took his own life whilst suffering from depression. Shortly after his death, his family founded the Trust in order to educate young people on the importance of staying mentally well and how to do so.

Free online meditation courses

Free online meditation courses are available from Gillian Higgins. You will find guided meditations and an introductory course to help understand the practice of meditation and how to develop a regular meditation practice. 

Pre-Pupillage Wellbeing Assistance Programme 

There has been a wide range of new research emerging from law schools around the world articulating the impact to those studying law and the challenges of their journeys through University and into the legal profession. Anecdotally at the Inn and from our own recent experiences, the conversations that we have been encouraging with regards to mental health and wellbeing through recent events have given rise to a number of individuals seeking assistance via the Education & Training Department. The numbers of student members experiencing distress post-BPTC is self-evident – and their challenges range from the availability of pupillages and the five year limit for them to complete their training, to other issues such as financial pressures.

The four Inns of Court have jointly launched a free and confidential Wellbeing Assistance Programme for our members who have completed the Bar course within the last five years and are seeking pupillage. It is aimed at helping you to deal with personal and professional problems that could be affecting your home life or work life, health and wellbeing.

The Assistance Programme is provided by Health Assured, who also operate the Wellbeing at the Bar Assistance Programme for self-employed barristers.

Who can use the Assistance Programme?

The Assistance Programme is designed for members of the Inn who have completed the BPTC/Bar Course within the last five years, whether or not you have been Called to the Bar, and before you have started pupillage. Access the scheme. 

If you are currently undertaking the BPTC/Bar Course, you will have access to wellbeing support services through your course providers and it is recommended that you approach these services in the first instance. If there are exceptional circumstances where you are unable or unwilling to access your student services, please contact the Inn’s Assistance Programme administrator: contact Vicky Hanson.

Pupils and members of the self-employed Bar will have access to the Wellbeing at the Bar Assistance Programme. Members of the Employed Bar will be covered by your own employers’ Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs).

What services does the Assistance Programme provide?

This Assistance Programme is intended for those in immediate need. The following services can be accessed as and when support is needed:

  • Online health and wellbeing resources, including webinars, mini-health checks and four-week self-help programmes covering topics such as sleep, smoking cessation, hydration and healthy eating.
  • A comprehensive telephone support helpline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to provide support on a wide range of issues, including counselling and emotional support; family issues; bereavement; stress related conditions; and money management and debt support.
  • Structured counselling (where possible), including face-to-face, telephone and online video counselling. In circumstances where structured counselling is recommended by Health Assured telephone helpline advisors, it is available through Health Assured as short-term, solution-focused structured therapy. Unfortunately, there are some limits we have had to place on the amount of counselling available. You may wish to see your GP, particularly if you may need ongoing counselling support.

Accessing the  Assistance Programme 

To access the scheme complete this form. You will be asked to provide the Inn with some basic information so that we can identify you from our records and verify your eligibility to use the service. If you are eligible for the scheme, you will be provided with access details via email.

The Programme is entirely confidential. The Inn does not require any information about why eligible members would like to access the service. Read more about Confidentiality & About Health Assured (PDF).

Harassment and bullying recording and reporting 

The Inns are committed to providing an environment in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect. Harassment in any form will not be tolerated by the Inns.

The Inns of Court Anti-Harassment Policy (PDF) applies to all members of the Inns of Court at all levels (including students) and extends to activities beyond the Inns' premises as well as electronic communications. 

Individuals who feel that they have been subject to harassment or inappropriate conduct in connection with the activities of the Inns (or witnesses to the harassment of others) should make initial contact with the Under Treasurer or Sub-Treasurer of the Inn concerned, or another designated Inn employee. 

Designated Gray's Inn employees are:

Talk to Spot 

The Bar Council works with online tool Spot which is available to support recording incidents of inappropriate behaviour across the Bar. 

Our Members are encouraged to report bullying, harassment or discrimination via Spot if they been the victim of inappropriate behaviour, or have witnessed or had someone has disclose something to them. Spot will allow you to make a record and, if you wish to, to make a report.

Complaints Procedure 

The Inn is committed to providing a high-quality service and an environment in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect. In order to do this, we need to be told when we get things wrong and if there is a complaint, to deal with it quickly, fairly and consistently. We listen to all complaints, treat them seriously and learn from them so that we can continuously improve our service. To this end, the Inn’s Complaints Procedure (PDF) has details of the Informal and Formal procedure for an individual wishing to make a complaint.

Key organisations and resources   

Bar Council Member Services 

The Bar Council provides a range of services to all members of the Bar. 

Useful resources supported by The Bar Council include: 

The Association of Women Barristers (AWB)

The AWB was founded in 1991 to monitor and represent the interests of women at the Bar of England and Wales. Its president is The Hon. Mrs Justice Cox DBE.

International Bar Association 

The International Bar Association is the world's leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. The IBA influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

Specialist Bar Associations

The Specialist Bar Associations (SBAs) are dedicated to the interests of groups of barristers within specific practice areas and geographical regions. The SBAs can help to promote their members' interests, for example responding to proposals for changes to regulations, and offering support to their members through networking events and mentoring schemes.

Childcare information

The Inn is fully aware that in such a demanding profession the costs and practicalities of childcare are among the issues facing parents practising at the Bar (or wishing to return to practice). 

Family and Childcare Trust

The Family and Childcare Trust is a national charity whose aims are to ensure high quality and affordable childcare for all. You can use the site to find your local Family Information Service.

Gov.uk

Gov.uk contains a large amount of useful information regarding maternity pay and leave.

Ofsted

Ofsted is the independent body which inspects and regulates services which care for children and young people, and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages. You can use the site to find an inspection report for your local school or childcare provider.

Parental Support Hub

The Bar Council is committed to improving rates of retention for barrister parents, and aims to provide useful sources of information and assistance to enable parents to manage their parental leave and childcare responsibilities whilst maintaining a practice at the self-employed or employed Bar.