The Benefits of Direct Access to a barrister, with Stephen Harvey QC

We interviewed Stephen Harvey QC about the benefits of coming to a barrister directly:

How are solicitors and barristers different?

Solicitors and barristers have traditionally performed very different functions. Whilst the solicitor has been responsible for briefing the barrister, the preparation of the client’s case, and in dealing with all of the administration. The barrister’s involvement has been to advise throughout those preparations, as to how the case should be put together, and then to eventually represent the client in court.

Nowadays, however, solicitors and barristers can perform much the same role as each other. However, there still remains a big distinction between instructing a firm of solicitors and instructing a barrister directly. And you will find that there are many advantages in going to the barrister directly.

How is a QC (Queen’s Counsel) different?

A barrister must be qualified for at least 10 years before he or she is eligible to apply to become a QC. QCs are known for being experts in their particular field and are usually instructed in the most serious cases or where particular expertise is required.

So what are the advantages of instructing a barrister directly?

The first main advantage of instructing a barrister directly:

The first, and many find the single biggest advantage is that you will deal directly, at all times, only with your barrister in relation to your case, and no one else. A Direct Access barrister therefore provides might be termed that ‘perfect continuity’ from the very beginning of the case. Many of my Direct Access clients have said to me after their cases have concluded that to have had direct telephone and indeed video contact with me throughout the preparation of the case, at any reasonable hour, was one of the most comforting aspects of instructing me directly. And that sentiment was repeated, particularly by those who had gone down the traditional route and had instructed barristers through solicitors in the past; and who then could only have had access to their barrister through their solicitor. In dealing with me, they appreciated not being pushed from pillar to post, from partner to assistant, or referred to a trainee, or to a secretary, and then having to repeat their story over and over again, in order to ensure that their lawyer knew what it was they wanted them to know.

And this very important difference was because, unlike solicitors, each barrister runs their individual practice. Unlike solicitors, barristers do not have partners or assistants to deal with their cases. Therefore, when you want to make contact with me, you will never be put on to another barrister in relation to anything to do with your case.

The second advantage of instructing a barrister directly

The second main advantage, and it’s a very important one, is obviously the one of cost: you only pay one lawyer’s fees.

The third advantage of instructing a barrister directly

And thirdly, by going to the barrister directly, you will get the advice and any representation that you need very much more quickly. Some cases will require considerable investigative and preparatory work. And I have many years worked alongside many highly experienced investigators from a variety of the backgrounds whom I hand-pick on a case-by-case basis to deal with client’s case.

When should I contact my barrister?

By being instructed at an early stage, I can direct operations, and thereby ensure that the preparations are properly focused, and that the conduct of the case is carried out in the most effective way.

When can I contact my barrister?

If you have a problem, I will happily speak with you about it, without any obligation on your part; in order to establish what ways for might be, that might be available to you. This can be done by telephone or secure conference video link. Just get in touch, and we can arrange mutually convenient time.