Barristers are ‘emotionally exhausted’

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One in eight barristers are emotionally exhausted and more than half don’t sleep properly, a survey by the UK Bar Council has found. 
 
Along with the financial pressures and high expectations, a lack of leadership and mentoring were listed as some of the main factors causing stress, with half of the respondents saying they felt disengaged at work.
 
The survey also found that while formal and informal mentoring was shown to reduce stress, many barristers were reluctant to seek help because of the stigma around stress at the Bar, the Law Gazette reported.
 
Fiona McLeod SC, president of the Australian Bar Association, said that Australian barristers face the same risks to their wellbeing. 
 
“Studies have shown the prevalence of mental health issues across the legal community from law students to the judiciary.  Many in the legal profession deal with people going through great stress and trauma on a daily basis,” she said.  “Barristers in particular, with their direct involvement in litigation, can face significant pressures.  Coping with this and the demands of practice on top of life's usual challenges can take its toll.”
 
NSW Bar Association president Jane Needham SC, said that a number of measures have been adopted in order to improve the wellbeing of the state’s barristers.
 
“We recognise that practice at the NSW Bar is demanding and places pressures on the professional and personal lives of our members,” she said.  “For that reason, the Bar Association has implemented a number of programs which are aimed at the wellbeing of those practising at the NSW Bar.  We established BarCare, an independent professional counselling service, a number of years ago.”
 
BarCare assists members with stress related problems and provides access to a wide range of professionals.
 
“In addition, we provide a variety of other services to our members ranging from lunchtime yoga classes to seminars for our members on stress management and related issues,” said Needham.  “The Bar Council has established a specific Health and Wellbeing Committee to consider further initiatives aimed at the welfare of our members in this regard.”
 
  • Garreth Duggan on 17/05/2015 6:30:17 AM

    I was a barrister in Ireland from 2007 to 2013. Before I left, there was a similar programme in place to help barristers with stress, etc. It is called LawCare (I think). The main stress for me was financial being paying high fees every year. There is still no chamber system in Ireland, all barristers are self employed. It always felt like if you haven't got the right connections from the very beginning, it was an uphill battle. Even those that have the connections might not make it. Being self employed meant the added stress if chasing fees notes. Two years after leaving I am still owed tens of thousands. As soon as my children came along, I made a choice to leave for a paid job. Nobody in the Irish Bar Council sits you down to see if they can advice or assist,you are on your own. I gave the Bar 6 good years and got brilliant experience but in the end, I am glad I left it.

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