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Catherine AddyThe continuing health of the independent referral Bar is an issue that has been under debate for decades. Last year, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), in its report on competition in the professions, vigorously advocated radical reform of the profession’s working practices, under threat of unspecified sanctions at the highest level. Meanwhile, another threat emerged somewhat closer to home, as solicitors’ firms pushed to encroach ever further on the Bar’s turf. An increasing number of commercial law firms are now training their associates for advocacy in the highest courts, as well as hiking up entry-level salaries in a bid to attract the brightest law graduates.

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