Until recently, a member of the public could not directly instruct a barrister to represent them. All barristers were appointed to cases via solicitors, and members of the public would have to pay for both a solicitor and a barrister, if a barrister was needed in their case.
The vast majority of work undertaken by barristers still comes about in this way. There remain many advantages to it. A solicitor deals with the ongoing litigation and then a specialist advocate (a barrister) would conduct court hearings, as well as drafting and advisory work, working in tandem with the solicitor. It is a relationship a little bit like that of a doctor and a surgeon.
However, paying for two different types of lawyer to act for you in the same case can be expensive, particularly if an individual feels able to deal with the litigation on their own but needs representation at court hearings or for complex drafting or legal advice.
Following the introduction of the Direct Access scheme, members of the public can now approach and instruct a barrister directly, without having to instruct a solicitor at all. If instructed by the Direct Access scheme, a barrister can:
- Provide legal advice and opinions
- Draft legal documents
- Assist you to draft letters and other documents during the case
- Represent you in court