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Considering A Direct Access Barrister Career?
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Considering A Direct Access Barrister Career?

As more and more people are becoming aware of the direct access scheme as a cost effective way of gaining legal advice, it seems now is a good time to peruse this as a career.

The scheme was only passed in July 2004. Before then, it was vital for members of the public to go through the solicitor process first, who would then appoint a barrister for you. However people are now able to essentially, cut out the middleman and go directly to a barrister for legal advice. The somewhat costly procedure of hiring a solicitor is no longer necessary and this more affordable method is becoming extremely popular.

So why is becoming a direct access barrister a worthwhile career consideration? As well as being more personal (and of course cheaper) for the public, it holds many benefits for the barrister also. The barrister is able to communicate on a one to one basis with his/her client, which in turn will improve their professional relationship and allow them to gain a better knowledge of the case. The potential for more business leads is also increased as the direct access barrister can interact with the public. It is paramount that if you are considering this as a career, you are confident and thoroughly enjoy directly dealing with people. The control and input you have over a case is significantly higher and they will be processed at your pace. This will no doubt be quicker than having to communicate with the solicitor also.

Direct Barristers can specialise in any area of the law they wish, including family, crime, housing, immigration and finance/separation amongst others. As it stands they will need a minimum of 3 years experience as a fully qualified barrister, however if the Bar Standards Board’s latest plan for the extension of public access rules is approved, barristers will no longer need these 3 years under their belt.

An accredited direct access course is also required for barristers to take this up as a career, but this is not necessary if you demonstrate a history of experience with the public as a solicitor. In this case, you can apply direct.

A disadvantage of the direct barrister career is that legal aid funding is not available for any of your work.

The direct, or public access barrister is certainly a career worth considering if the above information appeals to you. Think carefully about what area of the law you would like to specialise in and whether or not dealing with these cases directly is something you would like to pursue.


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