Childcare and other personal commitments
How to make your mark at the Bar while maintaining a personal life
There is a whole section of the Toolkit devoted to wellbeing and work-life balance. Members of the YBC offer the following additional tips.
- Finding a work-life balance may seem very difficult or impossible in your first years. It is essential to maintaining mental resilience and dealing with stress.
- It is not for this toolkit to tell you how to run your personal life in terms of personal relationships, marriage and children. However, maintaining a strong network of friends is important to remind you that there is a world outside of work and to give you perspective (even if your friends are all barristers).
- Do remember that you are self-employed and that it is up to you to manage your working hours in a way that suits you. Don’t allow yourself to be pressurised into taking on work that you can’t do properly (that would be a breach of the BSB Handbook anyway), or which would involve an unacceptable level of stress.
- In relation to childcare and maternity/paternity leave do make sure that you know what (if any) concessions or other practical measures are available and provided for by your Chambers. It may help to speak to other new parents to check how they manage their practices. There is a helpful guide to Chambers on what might be included in a maternity/paternity/parental leave policy at http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/practice-ethics/professional-practice-and-ethics/equality-and-diversity-guidance/maternitypaternityparental-leave-policies-things-to-think-about/.
- The Bar Council supports the operation of the Bar Nursery at Smithfield House, a central London childcare facility. It offers flexible childcare facilities near the Inns of Court with special rates for all members of the Bar. See http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/supporting-the-bar/member-services/parental-support-hub/.
- If for any reason you find that you need to cut your working hours to work part-time for personal or family reasons, do discuss it with your clerks, Head of Chambers, Chambers’ Manager or others as appropriate.
- You may find that personal commitments dictate the need for a career break. There is guidance on what you should think about in such circumstances at http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/practice-ethics/professional-practice-and-ethics/equality-and-diversity-guidance/career-breaks-things-to-think-about/.
- Don’t underestimate the good that hobbies, sport or music can have on mental well-being to refresh and renew mental capacity.