Direct Public Access Barristers
There is a new route to getting a qualified expert lawyer to do legal work for you and that is to go directly to a Barrister. This is a fairly new idea and only since 2010 has it been possible to instruct a Barrister direct in all areas of law. Before Direct Public Access was allowed it was normally only possible to have a Barrister working for you if instructed by a Solicitor (with a few limited exceptions).
The option is not possible with all Barristers though. A Direct Public Access Barrister must have 3 years qualifying experience, have completed a recognised training course and then have registered with the Bar Council before offering Direct Public Access.
There is a question as to why anyone would want to do this though instead of going to a Solicitor as always was the case before.
In the first place, it is an extension of choice. It is now possible to have a wider choice of legal expert than ever before. Much of the work a Solicitor could do is also work a Barrister could do.
That leads into a question about the cost of using a Direct Access Barrister. Contrary to many people’s perceptions it can be cheaper to use a Barrister than a Solicitor. The reason is that a Barrister’s practise overheads are normally much lower than that of a Solicitor.
Also, as a Direct Access Barrister must provide a written quote for work including all the fees before any legal work can start, it is quite possible to find out exactly how much a Barrister will charge for his or her services beforehand. This can be used to make a direct comparison with other Barristers or Solicitors. There is also the benefit of knowing all the charges in advance, as there is no possibility of any hidden extras for phone calls etc.
If you know you want to use a Barrister because of the nature of the legal matter you have in mind, e.g. a court appearance, or you simply want to have a Barrister working for you, you can go direct to the Barrister without using a solicitor and have only one lawyer involved and therefore only one lawyer to pay for. This can be very cost effective.
You should be aware that you may be required to do some of the things a Solicitor would normally do such as writing to the court but your Barrister would provide the paperwork for you to sign and send on. This is because a Barrister cannot conduct litigation which precludes a few activities associated with the running of litigation.
If the Barrister you want to instruct thinks that the case is too complex for the person to deal with, advice will be given to go to a Solicitor. This also applies if any developments in the case mean that a Direct Access client would be better served using a Solicitor.
All in all it is an excellent development in the provision of legal services which gives everyone a wider and potentially more cost effective choice of lawyer. So the next time you need some help with a legal matter why not check out a local Direct Access Barrister?
Corsham Barristers Chambers