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Do we need barristers' chambers anymore?

In the wake of the criminal legal aid deal between barristers and the justice secretary, Adam Makepeace asks whether it's time for solicitors to employ advocates as agents

1 April 2014

During the course of the last year, I have been asked by a number of senior members of the Criminal Bar what I thought the effect of cuts and consolidation on the solicitors' branch of the profession would be on the Bar. The prevailing view at the Bar was one with which I did not agree.

That view was that the Bar was instructed more often by smaller firms of solicitors and, in fact, the larger firms were retaining a lot of their advocacy in-house. So, the story continued, it logically followed that fewer larger providers meant that there would be less work for the Bar.

In fact, this is a point on which I agreed with Mr Grayling. In one of his more assured political performances in front of the select committee last year (you know - the one where he announced the abandonment of the 'no client choice' idea), he opined that fewer larger providers facing cuts would have to reduce fixed costs and would therefore be more pre-disposed to sourcing advocacy on an ...

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