Young Barristers Wellbeing Seminar

23 July 2015

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As part of the Bar Council's Wellbeing Project, the Young Barristers' Committee (YBC) hosted a very successful evening seminar on 29 June, aimed at helping members of the young Bar identify and deal with work-related stress and its often unwelcome consequences.

All those who completed the feedback form said they would recommend the seminar to others, and many of them were keen that similar sessions should be offered to others, especially in Chambers. Most of them regarded the practical advice that speakers gave on managing stress as the most important and useful part of the evening, and asked for more practical guidance on what help is available. Some commented that a more open acceptance of the need for policies for wellbeing would stop members of the young Bar being so fearful of speaking out sooner. As one delegate said, the Bar can be a lonely place. Many welcomed the recommendation of the Wellbeing Project researchers that more attention be given to establishing mentoring schemes within the profession to give young practitioners someone to consult and relate to when things get tough.

The session was chaired by Daniel Sternberg, current Chair of the YBC. Rachel Spearing, the Wellbeing Project Chair, introduced the project research results and Dr Clare Wilson, a reader in applied psychology at Portsmouth University and current Director of the Quality of Life, Health and Wellbeing Research Group within the Department of Psychology spoke about the manifestations - physical and psychological - of stress and its management. Neil Seligman, who practised as a civil law Barrister before founding The Conscious Professional, a training and coaching consultancy offering mindful education to corporate and individual clients, gave practical advice on reducing stress and developing healthy ways of coping with it.

The speakers were joined for a panel discussion by Nicholas Hill, Senior Clerk at 3 New Square, a member of the management committee of the Institute of Barristers' Clerks, and the IBC's representative on the Wellbeing Working Group, and by YBC Vice-Chair Louisa Nye. Nick urged members of the Bar to talk to and trust their clerks, and involve them, if things were not going well. Far from judging them, they would wish to help and promote the barrister's wellbeing.

The Wellbeing Project Working Group is currently considering the ways in which it can best promote the research findings and put in place mechanisms and events to assist the profession with wellbeing and stress-related issues. It is hoped this will be the first of many events designed to that end.

Wellbeing in all its aspects will be dealt with in the YBC's Toolkit for Young Barristers, an online resource aimed at helping junior practitioners with developing their practice, dealing with financial and regulatory matters and developing work-life balance in their early years of practice, to be launched in autumn 2015.

Further information about the Project, and details of the research findings, can be found at /media-centre/campaigns/wellbeing-at-the-bar/supporting-materials/2015/may/wellbeing-at-the-bar-report/.


Averil Sessions

Policy Analyst: Legal Affairs, Practice and Ethics
The Bar Council