A leading white collar crime barrister said this week that he may conduct straightforward litigation through his new Bar Standards Board-authorised entity. Bright Line Law, launched this week, is the brainchild of Jonathan Fisher QC and was devised in part as an attempt to bring together the various strands of his activities.
The Bar Standards Board has apologised for the “inordinately slow” progress in implementing Legal Services Act changes that will enable barristers to practice in novel ways, as it set out a timetable for broadening its reach into entity regulation.
At present, the main option for a group of barristers wishing formally to collaborate and share profits is to form an SRA-regulated law firm or, if non-lawyer managers are involved, an SRA-regulated alternative business structure (ABS). The impending introduction of entity regulation (and most likely ABSs) by the BSB will tip things on their head and create additional options for entrepreneurial barristers.
Barristers are likely to be allowed to form partnerships next year and before they can create alternative business structures, the Bar Standards Board said last week. Meanwhile, it dropped a proposal to force barristers to withdraw from cases where a client refuses to reveal previous convictions to the court.
Barristers are showing only “cautious interest” in alternative business structures, although they are keener on barrister-only entities, according to a major survey released yesterday. It also found a “worrying lack of optimisim” in the profession.
The Bar Standards Board’s move into entity regulation raises questions about the future of the Bar as a separate branch of the legal profession and could even lead to a solicitor heading the Bar, a former Bar Council chairman will warn this evening.
The Bar Standards Board is to regulate advocacy focused alternative business structures and allow barristers to conduct litigation, its board decided yesterday. However, it has placed significant restrictions on the range of entities it is prepared to regulate.
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) will become a specialist regulator of entities providing advocacy services, if proposals set out today are approved. Under the plans, BSB-regulated entities could not have passive investors, would need a majority of managers who can practise as advocates in the higher courts, and could only have a maximum of either 10% or 25% of non-lawyer managers.