Bar Council chairman says direct access an opportunity, not a threat, for solicitors

Solicitors should see public access barristers as an opportunity rather than a threat, the chairman of the Bar Council has told the Law Society Gazette.

Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said that while public access has increased competition, it also has brought new work to solicitors. She noted that barristers can now refer direct access work to solicitors.

She told the Gazette: “There will be cases where a solicitor will take the advocacy brief and others where a barrister will take the solicitor’s brief. But I see it as presenting more of an opportunity for both.”

She added: “I still see the traditional model as working very well, but there are certainly areas and cases where having the ability to select and choose can be an advantage for the client and can be more cost-effective.”

Her comments come shortly after research by the Bar Standards Board showed that although the volume of public access work is expected to grow, barristers are wary that promoting themselves directly to clients could create tensions with solicitors.

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