A battle-scarred Bar; John van der Luit-Drummond talks to barristers about stresses and strains at the independent Bar and the impact different work has on their wellbeing and mental health

October 21, 2019

It starts the first day you are sent to the magistrates’ court as a second six pupil: explained Red Lion’s Edmund Vickers QC. `Someone has been arrested overnight on a rape charge and you are there to fill out the legal aid forms and apply for bail. You have someone’s liberty in your hands and you are up against a cynical magistrate looking for reasons not to grant bail. Neither Bar school, nor pupillage, can prepare you for that pressure which increases throughout your career.’

Burning the midnight oil with last-minute preparation of cases, often due to late service of papers; juggling multiple instructions at once; the emotional strain of dealing with vulnerable clients; the stress of ‘performing’ before the judiciary, juries, and opponents; coping with bullying judges and demanding solicitors; the harrowing nature of certain evidence; the 24/7 nature of modern legal practice; the anxiety of being self-employed; and, of course, the financial pressures of publicly funded work — particularly at the junior Bar — as well as the government’s court closures, all impact the wellbeing of barristers…

[READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE P.34 to P.38 in the October issue of the fivehundred magazine ]