Earlier this month, Sir Andrew McFarlane told a room full of legal aid practitioners that the wellbeing of the profession was at the top of his agenda as president of the family division.

Monidipa Fouzder 2018

Monidipa Fouzder


'The judiciary greatly appreciate what you do and what you wish to do to progress the law and make it more accessible to individuals,' he said.

Perhaps the family law chief, then, could have a word with the judge highlighted in Criminal Bar Association chair Chris Henley QC's latest update. A criminal barrister, who is mum to young children, was telling the judge about the increasingly unreasonable demands placed on her and her colleagues. The judge apparently responded that counsel are expected to work evenings, weekends and lunches if required.

'No we are not,' Henley says in his update. 'Judges do not work for free, and whilst we will continue to work hard, no longer can we be expected to work without limit, and with no regard for our wellbeing, or to the other demands on our time. Some realistic lines need to be drawn.'

The profession is having more conversations about how wellbeing can be improved, which is good. But the constant stream of discussions and seminars suggest achieving wellbeing is difficult. It's not. For starters, let lawyers have a proper lunch break, leave work at a reasonable time and not be expected to work in the evening or during the weekend.

There will be occasions when lawyers might have to do some work 'out of hours', leave the office a little later than expected or respond to an email before bedtime. But no one should be scared to say 'no' if unreasonable demands are made of them - you'll have a whole army, led by me, backing you.