New statistics from the Direct Access Portal, the official Bar Council-backed free-to-use directory of barristers, show that there has been a surge of interest by the public and small businesses going directly to a barrister for help with their legal problems.
Figures just released show that from 1st July 2016 to 1st July 2017, the public searched for a barrister almost 150,000 unique searches for a barrister on the DAP.
While barristers in England & Wales are predominantly a referral profession and therefore are referred work from solicitors rather than directly from the public, there is growing popularity in the profession to do direct access work and deal directly with clients, potentially reducing clients’ legal bills in the process.
Malcolm Cree, Chief Executive of the Bar Council, said: “Traditionally, a member of the public would go to a solicitor with their legal problem and the solicitor would turn to a barrister when needed for their expertise and advocacy skills. That remains the way most barristers work today, but several thousand barristers are now trained to take work directly from the client. The Direct Access Portal statistics indicate this approach is gaining traction with the public and members of the profession. Potentially, by going directly to a barrister a client could save money because they don’t have to pay a solicitor as well. Barristers are predominantly self-employed and therefore have lower overheads and may cost less.
“There will be many cases where the barrister cannot take on the work and will refer it to solicitors. However, direct access does provide an alternative way for the public to access legal services rather than via the traditional route.”
Top searches by legal problem
The DAP statistics also revealed which areas of law the public were seeking help from a barrister for.
The top 10 areas of law were:
- Landlord and tenant
- Professional Negligence
- Land law
- Trusts law
Search for a direct access barrister, arbitrator or mediator in England & Wales at www.directaccessportal.co.uk
(Source: The Bar Council)