The Bristol Junior Lawyers Division Committee understands that 2020 has been very difficult for a lot of people in our profession. We have put together a list of organisations that may be able to help you if you are experiencing tough times. Whilst the Committee cannot provide you with legal advice in any form, below are some of the organisations available to you if you need either professional or personal support.

Disciplinary issues

Solicitors’ Assistance Scheme

Who: The Solicitors’ Assistance Scheme offers free, confidential help and advice for all solicitors in England and Wales, their families and employees on any problem troubling them, whether personal or professional.

What: They will provide you with a fellow practitioner who will help and listen. The Scheme has about 80 volunteers who are all practicing solicitors, who can offer a variety of advice including employment and insolvency advice. The scheme offers a minimum of one hour of pro bono advice and assistance (further advice will be offered at the discretion of the scheme member, or will be by way of formal retainer).

How: Advice is usually given over the phone, you need not reveal who you are and you can remain anonymous.

Who can use the service? all solicitors in England and Wales, their families and employees.

Contact them: email on sashelp@sba.org.uk or visit their website http://www.thesas.org.uk/

Practice Advice Service

Who: If you are experiencing bullying, harassment or discrimination at work, or any other employment issues, you can contact the Practice Advice Service.

What: The advice service offers free and confidential support on legal practice and procedure to Law Society members and their staff. It is a pastoral care helpline for people experiencing personal, financial or employment difficulties. They do not give legal advice, but their experienced solicitors can answer questions and make suggestions to help you with legal practice issues.

Who can use the service? Law Society members and their staff.

Contact them: Opening hours are 9-5 Monday to Friday, call 020 7320 5675 or email practiceadvice@lawsociety.org.uk

Ethical Enquires Service

Who: The Bar Council provides a confidential Ethics Enquiries Service to assist barristers (and, where appropriate, their clerks and other staff connected with barristers’ professional practices) to identify, interpret and comply with their professional obligations under the BSB Handbook. Please note: this service does not give legal advice.

Who can use the service? Barristers (and, where appropriate, their clerks and other staff connected with barristers’ professional practices).

How: Call the enquiries line on 020 7611 1307, lines are open 9:15 – 17:15 Monday – Friday, or email ethics@barcouncil.org.uk

 

Free legal advice

Bristol Law Centre

Who: The Bristol Law Centre provide free legal advice and representation, including issues arising from Covid-19. This could include housing, employment, immigration, discrimination, family law and benefits support.

Who can use the service? Anyone.

How: opening hours are Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm. Call them on 0117 924 8662, or visit their website.

Mental health care

LawCare

Who: LawCare promotes and supports good mental health and wellbeing in the legal community.

How: They provide information and support to anyone in the legal community experiencing mental health and wellbeing problems. They work to raise awareness, promote understanding and to improve the culture and practice of law. They can provide support and information on a wide variety of issues impacting lawyers, including (but not limited to) addition, bereavement, depression, bullying in the workplace, disciplinary proceedings, moving on from law, suicide, sleep and working from home.

LawCare is independent of legal professional bodies and regulators and they report nothing to them beyond the statistics. They keep brief notes of calls but these are stored securely.You do not have to give them your name and have the right to ask them not to keep a note of your call. Calls will be answered by trained staff and volunteers who have first-hand experience of working in the law. You can call the helpline as often as you need.LawCare’s website states the following:

we are here to listen and offer emotional support. We provide a space to talk through whatever is on your mind and we can signpost you to other support agencies. LawCare runs a peer support programme offering one-to-one support. We also provide useful information resources and factsheets.

Who can use the service? Anyone (solicitors, barristers, clerks, paralegals, students, their family members etc.)

Contact: webchat is available Monday and Wednesday 13:15-17:30 and Thursday 9:00-13:15. The factsheets are always available on the website.

For helpline support from within the UK, call 0800 279 6888 Monday- Friday 9am- 5.30pm.

Wellbeing at the Bar

Who: The Bar Council are seeking to address and support the challenges facing the profession. The Assistance Programme is a confidential 24/7 service helping people overcome physical, mental, social and financial challenges. In particular the programme is there to support barristers and staff through the challenges faced through Covid-19, from financial issues to bereavement.

How: the Wellbeing at the Bar website provides a range of resources and lists organisations that can help with specific issues. The Assistance Programme is for self-employed barristers, or a members of the IBC or LPMA.

Who can use the service? Barristers, clerks, staff, pupils, students.

Contact: to access the Assistance Programme helpline, call 0800 169 2040, or for other well-being services, visit the website: https://www.wellbeingatthebar.org.uk/support-for-barristers/

Samaritans

What: if you are in urgent need of support and would rather speak to someone outside of the legal industry, you can call the Samaritan helpline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 116 123 for free. You can also email jo@samaritans.org .

Who can use the service? Anyone.

Bristol Mental Health

What: BMH support crisis service provides high quality 24/7 support to people experiencing an extreme mental health or emotional crisis that requires help. The services offers a telephone line to support people in mental health crisis and professionals and others who are supporting people in mental health crisis. This line is open 24 hours a day, every day. All callers speak to a mental health professional who is trained in responding to mental health crises. A telephone triage assessment will take place for those in most urgent need and signpost to the most relevant crisis or recovery service as appropriate. For others, they may arrange introductions to other services depending on the individual situation. The urgency of response will be dependent on the level of assessed need following the telephone triage assessment.

Who can use the service? Anyone.

How: the services can be viewed on their website: http://bristolmentalhealth.org/services/

 

Financial hardship

SBA The Solicitors’ Charity

What: SBA The Solicitors’ Charity is an independent charity working for solicitors and their families. It helps people who are in serious financial need due to illness, accident, redundancy or other difficulties.

How: they provide welfare grants and other support grants, assistance with getting back to work and access to advice on welfare benefits and managing personal debt. They also work closely with partners who can provide emotional well-being support and regulatory and legal advice.

Who can use the service? Solicitors (past or present)

Contact: visit their website: https://www.sba.org.uk/ or email ses@sba.org.uk or call 020 8675 6440

General careers advice

Law Society careers clinic

What: The Law Society runs careers clinics for LPC students, paralegals, final seat trainees and qualified solicitors.  You will get a one-to-one consultation with a career coach/legal recruiter.      They can provide careers advice on applying for training, interview practice, changing career direction, returning after a break, transferable skills and alternative careers.

How: the clinics are run regularly and you should check the website for the next available dates.   The appointments can be help over the phone.

Who can use the service? Legal Practice Course (LPC) paralegals, final seat trainees and qualified solicitors.

Contact: to book a place email careers@lawsociety.org.uk