In the Media

Solicitors ?to profit? from instructing barristers following BSB rule changes

PUBLISHED December 18, 2009

Solicitors will for the first time be able to profit from instructing barristers following rule changes agreed last month by the Bar Standards Board (BSB), a legal businessman has said.

Peter Rouse, director of online barristers? directory Bar Select, said the new rules on how barristers can practise will enable a relationship with solicitors that will allow the solicitor?s firm to treat the barrister?s fee as a cost that they can mark up when billing the client to generate a profit.

Rouse said the rule changes will mean barristers could be contracted to a firm of solicitors for a case or period of time, while also being engaged in practice from chambers in the traditional way.

At present, he said, when a solicitor instructs a barrister their fee is treated as a disbursement. The solicitor can bill the client only for that fee, making no profit from the engagement of the barrister.

Rouse said: ?The potential exists to make the bar a source of legitimate profit opportunity to the solicitors? profession, and so reverse the trend of building advocacy capacity within firms.?

Viv Williams, chief executive of law firm consultancy 360 Legal Group, said: ?This is a good idea for both the bar and law firms.? He said it would give solicitors the opportunity to earn additional income without the cost of recruiting and retaining in-house advocates, and increase the volume of work sent to the bar.