Planned Breaks and Return to the Bar

On 4 March, Helen Davies QC (Head of Brick Court Chambers, Inner Temple Bencher), Elaine Banton (7BR, Middle Temple Bencher), Rebecca Dix (Serious Fraud Office) and Lucy Barbet (Joint Senior Clerk, 11 KBW) discussed their thoughts on planned breaks and returning to the Bar as part of the Temple Women's Forum. To aid with a more flexible approach to working Charlotte Baker (4 Paper Buildings) provided an informative taster into paperless working, what you need and how to go about it.

Audio Recording

A Brief Summary

For Chambers

  • Make sure Chambers have proper policies in place.
  • Chambers should aim to have their parental leave policies be as generous as possible.
  • Chambers have invested in their members and want them to stay. Retaining talent should be key to their policy.
  • Chambers offer subsidising parental leave – it happens in several Chambers.
  • Open door policies in Chambers.

For Individuals

  • Read your Chambers' parental leave policy – this will be your bible.
  • Notify your clerk and Head of Chambers as soon as you’re comfortable doing so.
  • Communication is key.
  • Large/Key clients – let them know that you are taking a break/going on parental leave. Is there a role for people to play, if desired, whilst on parental leave?
  • You might want to keep in touch with Chambers and key clients whilst away. However, you need to decide beforehand, and keep to the agreed levels of contact.
  • Make Plan A, then have a Plan B, C and even a D.
  • Support networks – all agreed that these were key to a successful planned break.
  • Your clerk is there to help – they should want to make things as easy as possible before, during and after a planned break.
  • Prepare for change.
  • Plan on an 18 month period or longer.
  • It could be useful to book a case in that you know you’re returning to.
  • Halfway through your leave, think ahead – planning is key.
  • Consider how you want to come back, full time/part time.
  • Have specific phone calls/meetings with clerks before returning to work.
  • Expectations should be managed on both sides.
  • Speak to your clerk about what hours you will be available for hearings and what hours you want to work.
  • Get good childcare set up.
  • Make sure you get your paperwork in order ie practising certificates etc.
  • Chambers events, if these are always scheduled at the end of the day speak to your Chambers Marketing Manager about arranging lunchtime events as well.

Paperless Working the Must Haves:

  • Liquid Text
  • Ipad pro (discount with Bar Council card) + Apple pencil
  • Ask for papers electronically
  • Back up chargers – have lots and keep them everywhere
  • Bundle Docs – is it worth the chambers getting a subscription

Slides from Lucy Barbet's presentation