There are over 15,000 barristers practising law in England and Wales.
Barristers provide specialist advice and representation in legal disputes, including representing their clients in court cases.
Often, if you have instructed a solicitor or another type of lawyer, they will find and appoint a suitable barrister for you.
However, nowadays you can also approach many barristers directly to get help without needing to go through another lawyer first. This is known a ‘Public Access’, or ‘Direct Access’.
As well as advising and representing you in court cases, Public Access barristers can help you with things like drafting legal documents, or giving specialist advice on a particular area of law.
But where can you find a suitable barrister? And how do you know if the barrister you are thinking of instructing, is an expert in the area of law that you need help with?
Well, the Bar Council – the professional body which represents barristers – has recently launched a new online Direct Access portal. It is an easy way to find and contact specialist Direct Access Barristers, Mediators and Arbitrators.
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) regulates all barristers. It sets the rules for what a barrister learns and how they must do things. All barristers must be registered in order to give legal advice. You can check whether a barrister is registered using the BSB’s online Barristers’ Register. It can display details of all barristers who are authorised to practise in England and Wales.
Finally, if you are not sure if the person who you are dealing with is really a barrister, please check out this Legal Choices article for advice.