Straight There No Detours: Direct Access to Barristers (Report 2008)
34 Pages Posted: 29 Dec 2008 Last revised: 22 Nov 2015
Date Written: November 1, 2008
With the inception of the Legal Services Act 2007 following the Clementi Report on new ways of providing legal services in the UK, the Bar is moving to alter the way it practices. Traditionally, the Bar has been a referral profession relying on solicitors and other professionals to instruct barristers when legal opinions or advocacy is sought. In recent years the Bar has attempted to open the barristers' profession to more direct access from clients thus bypassing solicitors.
This has had a mixed reaction among barristers and barristers' clerks. Some see it as the route to a modern diverse profession while others see it as potentially harming these traditional relationships between barrister and solicitor that have been built up over many years. Among solicitors this has been met by their own moves to become advocates in the higher courts.
The report presents findings from research carried out among barristers, clerks, chambers chief executives, and users. Data were collected via interview, survey, and documentary sources. It shows that barristers represent value for money for clients because of lower overheads than solicitors. But the current rules in place that regulate how barristers carry out direct access work do more to hinder than encourage users.
The report concludes that since the Legal Services Act will permit "alternative business structures" which will directly compete with barristers, and solicitors, an expansion of direct access work is one way of countering the effects of these changes.
Keywords: barristers, Clementi, direct, access, clients, solicitors, lawyers
JEL Classification: J44
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation