Access all areas – the realities of gaining direct access to the Bar
There are no two ways about it. After years of effectively being a closed shop, the Bar is opening up. A number of initiatives over the years have seen it attempt to open its doors to a more diverse range of young barristers. And more recently, it attempted to stop relying on its traditional referring solicitor client base to attract a more diverse range of clients – whether or not solicitors liked it. The popularity of the scheme myBarrister – to launch later this year – an online service that will promote direct access to the Bar through a centralised portal of barristers (see page 20), is the latest in a string of moves by the Bar to increase direct instructions from clients. The changes are largely down to a concerted push from several individual barristers and sets to increase direct access in light of funding cuts, especially to legal aid, as well as to increased competition from solicitors looking to bring more advocacy work in-house.
Recent measures to drive the public towards approaching barristers directly have met with a mixed reaction, both among potential law firm rivals and at the Bar. Helen Mooney reports
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