When The Public Access Rules originally came into force in July 2004, many barristers, clerks and solicitors voiced concern. How, if the public were able to instruct a barrister directly to advise and represent them, could barristers’ chambers and law firms continue to coexist as they always had?
Direct Access’ entry into the legal market came as no surprise. Arguably, it was predictable. The UK’s legal industry was in flux. Increased competition, increased client expectations, increased cost-sensitivity and the disruptive pressures of litigation funders, fee arrangements and legal aid cuts demanded change. Change is always feared but, similarly, change also more often than not proves to be necessary and productive.
Now it is almost 20 years since Public and, subsequently, Direct Access came into being, it is a good time to reflect on how Public/Direct Access accreditation has impacted the UK’s legal profession.
Traditionally solicitors and barristers have performed very separate functions. The solicitor is responsible for the preparation of the client’s case, for the management of the case and for instructing and briefing a barrister if/when required. Barristers advise on structure and strategy during the preparation of the case before they represent the client in court.
You can read the full article on Law360’s website.