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New data on wellbeing at the Bar

Breaking NewsNew data on wellbeing at the Bar

Today the Bar Council has published the Wellbeing at the Bar Report 2024. The data shows some improvements in wellbeing at the Bar.

Dr Darren Van Laar at Portsmouth University produced the report, and it is based on data from 2023. The survey was distributed to the whole population of UK practising barristers.

The key findings include –

  • Overall, barristers reported higher levels of work satisfaction and wellbeing in 2023 when compared to 2021. This was in terms of their psychological wellbeing, workload management and supportive work environment.
  • 73% of respondents agreed they had supportive colleagues and/or work environment, a rise of 6% compared to 2021.
  • 61% of respondents felt they were satisfied with their job, the same percentage as in 2021.
  • 60% of respondents agreed they tended to have a good mood, 34.9% indicated they tended to feel down or in low spirits and of these, 23.7% reported low psychological wellbeing.
  • 49% of respondents reported they were managing their workloads well, but a third (31.4%) indicated they weren’t coping.
  • Women, barristers from an ethnic minority background, and those who are younger and more junior had lower overall wellbeing.
  • Barristers working in family law had significantly lower overall wellbeing compared to all other practice areas, except for the criminal Bar. Barristers practising in commercial law reported the highest average overall wellbeing.

Chair of the Bar Council, Sam Townend KC, said: “The latest data reflects an improvement in some aspects of wellbeing at the Bar. This deserves recognition. Notwithstanding the challenges of pay and conditions for parts of the Bar, in particular, in publicly funded work, it is good to see these improvements being made. The publication of this report offers an opportunity to acknowledge the excellent work on wellbeing carried out by some at the Bar, clerks and staff.

“Concerningly, younger, more junior barristers, women and barristers from an ethnic minority background reported lower levels of overall wellbeing as did barristers working in criminal and family law. These are the areas we will continue to focus on in terms of personal wellbeing and working conditions.”

The Bar Council last year relaunched its wellbeing certificate programme that was first introduced in 2017. In 2023, certificates were awarded to 45 chambers as part of the updated programme. Chambers who have secured the new certificates have put emphasis on regular structured practice review for all barristers, offering career development and support, and taking steps to rebuild chambers as a thriving community.

Notes to editors

The deadline for the new round of wellbeing certificate applications is the end of March and more information is available on the Wellbeing at Work website.

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