Looking after you
Studying and working in law can be stressful for many reasons, and working in legal aid can be even more so. Clients are often in very vulnerable situations, or may have been through very traumatic experiences, and working in legal aid can mean that you hear about these experiences on a regular basis.
YLAL believes that in order to be able to look after your clients, you must also make time to look after you!
One of YLAL’s aims is to provide YLALs with a network of like-minded people. Coming along to our regular meetings held across the country, will give you a chance to meet others. You can also access a mentor via our mentoring scheme.
However, you may also want to access different support. This page gives you details of what’s available.
If you have any questions, please get in touch.
On this page, you’ll find organisations who offer:
- support across the professions;
- support for barristers / those working in chambers;
- support for solicitors / those working in firms;
- support groups of other barristers and solicitors; and
- general mental health support.
Across the professions
Claiming Space – Claiming Space was set up by Rachel and Joanna who met while on the committee of Young Legal Aid Lawyers. Following many conversations with peers and colleagues about the impact of their clients’ stories on their well-being and those around them, they began working on a project to make space to learn, share and reflect on practice. Claiming Space is the product of their years working in legal aid law and speaking to junior lawyers from across the spectrum of social justice legal practice.
Their ultimate goal is to ensure that the most vulnerable in society are helped by lawyers who are well-supported to deal with stress, vicarious trauma and burnout. They are committed to making legal aid and social justice work sustainable and open to people of all backgrounds, so that clients get the best representation possible.
Claiming Space: in the evening provides a non-judgmental monthly space to learn, share and reflect on practice. This space has been created specifically for junior lawyers (10 years PQE or less) working in legal aid and social justice law. These sessions are free to attend. Every space will start and finish with a short yoga-inspired session to focus and frame the evening, and includes speakers, reflection, and a space to share and learn. At the start of each space the group will collectively set rules on confidentiality and how they share during their time together. This takes place on the first Monday of the month, every month, from 18:30-20:00, at The MayDay Rooms (88 Fleet Street, London, EC1V 1DH).
LawCare – LawCare’s vision is of a legal community that values, promotes and supports good mental health and wellbeing.
They support and promote good mental health and wellbeing in the legal community throughout the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man and Jersey. Their mission is to help the legal community with personal or professional concerns that may be affecting their mental health and wellbeing, and to promote understanding of how and when to seek help, without fear or stigma.
They help all branches of the legal profession: solicitors, barristers, barristers’ clerks, judges, Chartered Legal Executives, paralegals, trade mark attorneys, patent agents, costs lawyers and their staff and families. Their support spans the legal life from student to training to practice and retirement.
Booze culture campaign – in January 2020, the Law Society Junior Lawyers Division launched best practice guidance for employers on how to approach alcohol in the workplace: Creating a Healthy Alcohol Culture in the Legal Profession: Guidance for Firms and Individuals.
At the Bar
The Baristers’ Benevolent Association exists to support, help and comfort those members of the Bar in England and Wales and their dependants who are in need, in distress or in difficulties.
Wellbeing at the Bar aims to:
Provide barristers and chambers’ personnel with the information and skills they need in order to stay well
Support members of the profession through difficulties that affect a barrister’s professional life
Provide assistance to those responsible for or who are supporting those in difficulty or crisis
You can find out more about Wellbeing at the Bar’s work in these articles:
Wellbeing at the bar has specific guidance on bullying and harassment and in March 2019 the Bar Council published Advice to the Bar about Bullying by Judges
For solicitors / those working at law firms
You can contact the SRA – www.sra.org.uk/support
Solicitors’ Assistance Scheme – This service offers free confidential help and advice for all solicitors on any problem troubling them, whether personal or professional — providing a fellow practitioner who will listen and help.
Solicitors’ Benevolent Association – This is an independent charity working for solicitors, both past and present, and their families. Every year, it helps hundreds of people of all ages who are in serious financial need as a result of illness, accident, redundancy or other adversity.
The Law Society Practice Advice Service – The Practice Advice Service offers free, confidential support and advice on legal practice and procedure.
Lawyerline – You can call for advice on client care and complaints handling, including how to resolve complaints directly with your clients and how to deal effectively with the Legal Ombudsman.
Specific groups and associations
Solicitors and barristers have set up specific groups to support and represent people from various backgrounds. These groups are independent f
rom us. They may be able to offer practical advice and peer support. Please contact them direct to see how they may be able to help:
- Women in the Law
- Law Society Women Lawyers Division
- Association of Women Barristers
- Association of Asian Women Lawyers
- InterLaw Diversity Forum
- Law Society Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division
- Society of Black Lawyers
- Black Solicitors Network
- British Nigerian Law Forum
- Law Society Lawyers with Disabilities Division
- The Society of Visually Impaired Lawyers (SOVIL)
- Blagg (Bar Lesbian and Gay Group)
- Law Society LGBT Lawyers Division
- Sole Practitioner Group
General mental health support
Mind give information and support about mental health problems
Samaritans offer support and guidance to help with issues such as financial worries, stress, depression, suicidal feelings
You can also find advice and support on stress, anxiety and depression on the NHS website.