A guide to finding and using a barrister

Lawfirms across England and Wales have, over many years developed a deep respect and appreciation for the highly specialised advice and service offered by the Bar.

However, there are still today many lawyers today that do not fully understand how to select the appropriate barrister for the advice required, nor do they fully understand the range of services offered how easy it can be to seek their help.

Importance of the barrister

Unlike many other countries England’s Legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers. Broadly speaking the difference between a solicitor and the barrister is that the barrister is usually called upon for expert advice and advocacy, whereas the solicitor usually will draw up the majority of the documents and handle the communication between opposing parties.

There are many more solicitors and barristers in England and Wales. With around 90,000 practising solicitors and only around 11,000 self-employed barristers. The vast majority of advocacy and Tribunals work in England and Wales is carried out by barristers. Distinguished advocates are appointed as Queen’s Counsel (QC) as a mark of their dedication to specialising in their field or fields, and with a worldwide reputation for excellence are called upon in highly complex cases where a very high level of expertise is required. There are around 1300 QCs in England and Wales.

Traditionally cases are referred to barristers by solicitors much in the same way as a general practitioner medical doctor may refer patients to a consultant for a particular complex condition requiring the attention of the consultant. However lawyers from other jurisdictions outside England and Wales may also use the bar directly.

Recruitment into a barristers chambers is highly competitive. Only three or four trainees ( referred to as pupils) are accepted out of hundreds of applicants, and then only one or two of those are accepted as tenants to the chamber.

Services offered by the bar

  • Barristers are experts in legal arguments and cross-examination, both in court and arbitration not only in England and Wales but also abroad
  • Barristers can advise you on the strengths and weaknesses of your case based on the evidence presented, and evidence required based on those  strengths or weaknesses
  • Barristers can advise you on the points of law and opinions on those points even without a contentious context

Foreign lawyers may also approach the bar directly for a number of advantages: barristers developed an intricate knowledge with courtroom practices and develop a heightened instinct in their field so that their advice is very reliable. There is no concern that barristers or chambers will take the clients away from other lawyers because it remains a referral profession where advice or advocacy is required at any specific point in the case.

Barristers also often charge lower fees than solicitors for the equivalent amount of time spent because they do not need to carry out as much research as they will already be a specialist in that field, but they also work as a self employed entities so they only need maintain a smaller office and do not need to maintain many employees and other staff facilities required by most lawfirms.

Barristers also really can offer and objectives and independent opinion because of their status as a self-employed entity.

Choosing and instructing a barrister

Many chambers, known as ‘sets’ will be a specialist set in a particular field. Other sets may cover a wide range of disciplines, and have a select few specialist barristers in those fields which will be appointed when the appropriate cases are presented.

BarristerDIRECT has been set up to make instructing a barrister even simpler for you. We search through the many chambers across the country with whom we have established relationships and select an appropriate barrister or selection of barristers for you to choose from so that you do not need to go through this search process. If you are happy with the selection of barrister, you may negotiate terms with either the barrister directly all their clerk or alternatively ask that we find you a different barrister if you have any reason to do so. BarristerDIRECT do not charge you any fees for this service, and we do not charge referral fees from the barrister as this is not permitted by the Bar Council regulations. Therefore you can be assured that you are not paying a premium for your barrister by going through BarristerDIRECT.   In fact, in many cases you may save a significant amount of money because not every case will require the services of a solicitor, however we can find an appropriate barrister that can handle some of the documentation, or guide you to do this documentation yourself in order to save a significant amount of money

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