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Barristers must switch off from hi-tech world to relax, says Bar Council head

Published 06/09/2016

Bar Council chairwoman Chantal-Aimee Doerries QC told how hard it is for barristers to ignore work in an internet age
Bar Council chairwoman Chantal-Aimee Doerries QC told how hard it is for barristers to ignore work in an internet age

Barristers have been told of the importance of making time for rest and relaxation in the modern technological world.

Chantal-Aimee Doerries QC, who is chairman of the Bar Council - which represents barristers, says August used to be a month when barristers "didn't work".

But she has explained - in an article in legal magazine Counsel - how difficult it is for barristers to ignore work in an internet age when clients expect answers to emails.

She says being a barrister is "demanding and hard" and says it is vital that barristers find time to regenerate batteries.

"Before the internet, August was a time when the Bar went on holiday, or, if not on holiday, had some respite from the normal speed of life," said Ms Doerries.

"The courts closed … generally it was accepted that barristers didn't work in August."

She added: "Many of us will have taken some time off during August, but very few will have taken the whole month off. For those of us who disappeared in August, or indeed at any time during the year, it is increasingly difficult to ignore work."

Ms Dorries said she recognised that technology helped lawyers and the members of the public - but said there was a benefit to August being, in effect, an enforced break from work.

"The Bar is a demanding and hard job," she said.

"One of the many advantages of technology is that, assuming you are not actually physically needed for court, you can work pretty much anywhere these days, allowing much greater flexibility.

"The challenge may be, at least for those of us less disciplined with technology, to ensure that enough time is built in for R & R (rest and relaxation).

"It is vital for our wellbeing that we recognise the pressures which come with the job and we make time to regenerate our batteries."

Miss Dorries told how she had been paddle-boarding on a lake in New England during August - she said it was one of the few places where "I simply could not look at my BlackBerry or iPhone".

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