New video platform is “missing link” for direct access barristers


Joanthan Maskew

Maskew: chambers struggling to turn calls into clients

A new video platform has been hailed as the “missing link” in improving the ability of direct access barristers to attract more clients.

Jonathan Maskew, director of virtual chambers ShenSmith, said clients wanted to speak to and see barristers immediately and the ODRO platform could finally provide this.

“Chambers are getting lots and lots of calls about direct access work, but they find it difficult to convert them into clients,” he said.

“At the moment solicitors are much better at delivering what potential clients want. This could be a game-changer.”

Mr Maskew, who also acts as a consultant for other chambers, said ShenSmith had been trialling ODRO Vision for the past three months. He said he hoped that an app for ODRO would be ready in the next few weeks.

He said that the ultimate goal would be a situation where every time a client made contact about direct access work, they would be offered a free five-minute video chat with a barrister.

Mr Maskew said that while Skype was ideal for friends and family, the poor image quality and lack of security was not sufficiently “professional” for business use.

He said meetings on ODRO could be recorded to provide an audit trail, there were no pop-ups or other advertising and the platform could be attached to sets of chambers so that they ‘owned’ it. ODRO does not require clients to sign up in advance – instead they are sent a link which they click on.

Isabelle Parasram, an employment law barrister and door tenant at ShenSmith, said confidence in the system was crucial, particularly as she had recently obtained extended litigation rights for her own firm, Greycoat Law.

“If I were to be audited, it would be great to be able to say that I do video conferencing in this way, and that it is secure.

“As a client, I am sent a link to a meeting room and all I have to do is reply to it. As a barrister, the system needs to look professional and have a clear picture.

“I can read people better if I can see them face to face – it makes a real difference. The same is true for many clients.”

Ms Parasram said the video platform had helped her quickly convert contacts into clients.

“Clients want to know whether they can trust me, so it helps if they can see me physically. I find phone calls far less fulfilling.”

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