Crime and family worst by practice area
Young barristers have reported experiencing “lower levels of overall wellbeing” compared to their more senior colleagues.
The Bar Council’s research found that overall, barristers reported higher levels of work satisfaction and wellbeing in 2023 when compared to 2021.
However, women, barristers from ethnic minority backgrounds, and those who are younger and more junior demonstrated poorer levels of overall wellbeing.
While 60% of respondents agreed they tended to have a good mood, a little over third said they tended to feel down or in low spirits. Of these, nearly a quarter reported low psychological wellbeing.
The report further found that, generally, as barristers age, they report higher levels of wellbeing. Specifically, those aged 65 and over reported significantly higher wellbeing compared to all younger age groups.
Elsewhere, nearly three quarters of respondents agreed they had supportive colleagues and/or work environment, a 6% uptick compared the Bar Council’s 2021 report. Sixty-one percent said they felt satisfied with their job.
Breaking the findings down by practice area, family barristers had significantly lower overall wellbeing compared to all other areas, with the exception of those at the criminal bar. Those working in commercial law — one of the top paying practice areas at the bar — 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.”
He continued: “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.”