Women in Family Law Wellbeing
Here at Women in Family Law, we are dedicated to ensuring that women practising in this field prioritise their mental health and wellbeing. The legal profession can be gruelling and unrelenting. Many of us work all hours of the day, during the weekend, juggle caring commitments, skip lunches, take on our clients’ trauma and eventually, burn out. Thankfully, conversations around mental health and wellbeing are starting to happen within our profession but we need to make sure that those who are struggling know that they can find help when they need it. We still have a long way to go.
On this page, we have gathered not only practical resources, but also some suggested viewing/reading by other women in the legal profession. In difficult times, we hope that these nuggets of wisdom from our peers can offer some comfort and remind you that you are absolutely not alone.
Mary-Rachel McCabe at Doughty Street Chambers has written about the need for clerks and seniors to make it easier to say “no” to work.
District Judge Helen Conway took time out of work due to stress-related depression and anxiety. She writes here about the importance of “a psychologically safe space where it is acceptable for colleagues to feel able to describe emotions accurately and to name their illnesses without fear of stigmatisation.” She has also written separately about how to talk to a depressed colleague.
Rachel Francis from Claiming Space (see below) has written about the importance of peer support as a tool in the “wellbeing armoury”.
One of our founding board members, Malvika Jaganmohan from St Ives Chambers, writes a blog about mental health amongst lawyers called Stiff Upper Lip.
It’s a Lawyer’s Life carried out an interview with Jo Shaw from 1 Essex Court on her struggle with depression which can be accessed here.
Zoe Henry, barrister and wellbeing officer at KCH Garden Square, has written about looking after your wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some resources that you can access if you need help or support.
LawCare provides free, confidential advice through their helpline, web chat and phone line. You can also find helpful factsheets on everything from addiction, to workplace bullying, to sexual harassment. They offer a peer support service, tips on disclosing a mental illness in the workplace, as well as personal stories from those who have suffered from mental health problems.
This is a website which provides an array of support and resources for barristers, pupils, clerks, chambers staff and students. There are practical tips on how to help a colleague in distress, how to stay well, as well as real-life stories from barristers who have struggled with their mental health.
This document prepared by The Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division highlights what organisations should be doing to support their employees.
Claiming Space offers support to junior lawyers to help them process stress and vicarious trauma arising out of their work with vulnerable clients. Claiming Space has prepared a factsheet on vicarious trauma and they offer monthly evening sessions where junior lawyers can share and reflect on their practice.
Law Society Pastoral Care Helpline: 020 7320 5795
Bar Council Confidential Equality & Diversity Helpline: 0207 611 1320
Employee Assistance Programme Confidential Helpline: 0800 169 2040
LawCare: 0800 279 6888
Samaritans: 116 123