A majority of barristers think they should be able to conduct litigation, according to emerging findings from the Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) survey of the profession.
The survey on opinions and expectations in relation to new business structures – which closes next week – has received around 1,000 responses so far and BSB chairwoman Baroness Ruth Deech told yesterday’s meeting of the full board that the initial findings showed support for barristers being able to conduct litigation whether they are working inside “entities”, such as law firms, or whether they are self-employed. There was also a majority in favour of extending public access.
The findings are raw and preliminary, and have not yet been analysed by YouGov, which is conducting the survey.
The Institute of Legal Executives and Council for Licensed Conveyancers are already seeking the right to conduct litigation for their members.
Baroness Deech reported that “a lot” of barristers responding to the survey were interested in working with solicitors and other lawyers, while around a quarter so far had indicated enthusiasm to work with non-lawyers. However, few seemed to know where they might be working in five years’ time.
There was also very strong support for the BSB continuing to regulate barristers even if they join some form of new business structure that emerges under the Legal Services Act. The BSB is already exploring what would be required for it to become a regulator of entities, rather than just individual barristers, and lay member Sarah Brown, a member of the entity regulation working group, told the board that the survey results – if they remain along the same lines – showed the need for it to be looking at entity regulation.