What’s to be done?

The 2015 report commissioned by the UK Bar Council concluded with a number of practical proposals for enhancing wellbeing at the Bar [1].

In my view the ideas are equally applicable to other branches of the profession and I have been mindful of them in writing this book. The suggestions include:

1 Cognitive style
The report recognises that lawyers have a perfectionist streak and sometimes have unhelpful patterns of thinking. We looked at this elsewhere. It suggests that cognitive tools and learning could be provided to those working in the Law to deepen and further build levels of resilience. I have suggested a simple yet comprehensive way of thinking about the individual, social and circumstantial aspects of legal life: Me.You.Do.

2 Stigma
It is hoped that work carried out through a wellbeing programme will lead to reduced stigma around workplace stress.

3 Mentoring
Mentoring appears to have a significant positive impact and so a formal programme to build this source of support is a clear opportunity. Lessons can be learnt from good practice in mentoring where this is currently taking place. We have seen Andrew, Beth and Chris were all helped by mentors in different contexts. It is only regrettable that they received this support at the rehab rather than the prehab stage.

4 Social support
Leadership capability could be enhanced to capitalise on the social support reported and valued within the profession “alongside knowledge and skills in relation to other constructs for intrinsic motivation. Engagement and cognitive capacity and efficiency”.

5 Remuneration, work-life balance and workload
A review of the remuneration structure at the Bar is suggested as is further analysis in relation to work-life integration and workload capacity. I regret I can offer no words of wisdom on better remuneration. The lawyer vignettes say something of difficulties with work-life balance and how this can be better achieved. The issues surrounding workload capacity are outlined above.

6 Psychological health support
LawCare’s role in providing help to the legal profession at times of need has been illustrated at some length.

The missing metric
We looked briefly at Richard Layard’s recent report for the Centre for Economic Performance. In this he noted a missing metric in the creation of the welfare state, an invisible one: mental health.

He ends his report by making a number of policy recommendations and in particular underlines the need for parity of treatment for mental and physical illness.

He concludes by saying that if we want to improve the wellbeing of our society, we need a change of tack. “Economic growth is not the magic bullet and happiness depends more on the quality of relationships and our own inner peace. Mental health is vital for both of these. Improving it could be the most important single step forwards in the 21st Century.” [2]

This is equally true for lawyers.

Healthy justice depends on healthy lawyers.



[1] Positive (2015) Wellbeing at the Bar: A Resilience Framework Assessment (RFA).

[2] Layard, R. (2013) CEP Discussion Paper No 1213. Mental Health: The New Frontier for Labour Economics. London: Centre for Economic Performance.


(This is an edited excerpt from my book A Lawyer’s Guide to Wellbeing and Managing Stress published by ARK Group in 2015.)

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