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How We Do Things

Coram is a set designed around the needs and ambitions of its members and takes a collegiate and modern approach to all aspects of work and personal life.

Chambers is well-known for its working environment, its commitment to enabling members to balance their work and personal commitments, and the standards of excellence that these factors enable members to reach.

Coram is managed via a company structure (Coram Chambers Limited, company no. 07726687), headed by a four-person executive board and managed by a chambers director.

More information can be found below about how we do things at Coram.

Wellbeing

Chambers is formalising a written wellbeing policy in 2018, in consultation with The Bar Council and Mind to enact many of the practices already in place to support members’ mental and physical health and wellbeing. The policy will also enhance the provisions currently in place, and as a whole chambers will strengthen its position as a leader at the bar when it comes to the promotion and development of a positive, collegiate and productive workplace. Wellbeing initiatives include free counselling support services for all members and staff, an anti-bullying policy, and a reciprocal mentoring programme for senior and junior members.

Parenting and Flexible Working

Coram is well-known for its flexible and barrister-led approach to parenting and family commitments. Members are free to choose the practice they want, and chambers takes all reasonable steps to accommodate members who seek to combine their working lives with their other responsibilities. Chambers also offers flexible working arrangements to staff as far as practicable. Chambers considers the ability to dedicate sufficient time to family and personal life to be vital to the wellbeing, working environment, and productivity of everyone at Coram.

Our policy on leave and flexible working is summarised below.

In this policy ‘days’ shall mean ‘working days’.

To retain full rights as a member of chambers a member must work full time as a barrister for at least 195 days each year. Full rights include:

a) the right to a desk in chambers
b) the right to vote
c) the right to be counted as a member of chambers for voting purposes and
d) the right to have one’s position considered on any issue of policy, recruitment or administration of chambers.

A member of chambers may take up to 260 days’ leave per year for either of the following reasons whilst retaining full rights as a member of chambers:

a) pregnancy, or
b) fostering with a view to adoption or adoption.

A member of chambers may take up to 195 days’ leave per year for any of the following reasons whilst retaining full rights as a member of chambers:

a) A partner’s pregnancy
b) Fostering with a view to adoption or adoption of a child
c) Bereavement
d) Family illness
e) Personal illness
f) Other family crisis

The reasons set out above shall be termed ‘the exceptional reasons’.

Any member of chambers working for more than 130 days a year but fewer than 195 days each year for a reason other than one of the exceptional reasons shall not have an automatic right to a desk in chambers (although the executive board will endeavour to provide desk space). All other chambers rights will be retained.

Any person who wishes to retain membership of chambers must work as a barrister for at least 130 days in any one year if they do not qualify for leave for any of the exceptional reasons or must elect to be on sabbatical leave.

The executive board may vary the length of the leave that a member of chambers may take for any of the exceptional reasons if it is of the view that the circumstances of the case so require.

Any member of chambers may electing to be on sabbatical leave.

A member of chambers who takes leave on the grounds set out above (however long they choose to take in accordance with the above policy) shall be entitled to a rent rebate, which may be claimed at any time during the period of leave. A member of chambers returning to work after leave on these grounds shall also be entitled to a rent-free period.

A member of chambers who takes leave on the grounds of their partner’s pregnancy / fostering / adoption as set out above shall be entitled upon returning to work to a rent-free period.

Clerking and support

Coram’s award-winning clerking team provides a vital service in supporting members to develop their practices and manage their time in a way bespoke to the needs and ambitions of each member. Clerking at Coram is based around a collegiate atmosphere of co-working with members of chambers, and our clerks are known across the family law profession for their approachable manner and honest, flexible approach to solicitors.

Library

All members of chambers and pupils have access to market-leading online legal research tools, a well-stocked internal hard-copy library, and are within a short walk of the Gray’s Inn legal library. Members also regularly publish books, articles and host seminars and other educational events as part of Coram’s ongoing contribution to the development of family law, both in principle and in practice.

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