Barristers Predict an Uncertain Future for the Bar

New research by LexisNexis shows almost three-quarters of barristers are reporting growth in their practices; but further growth depends on the sector’s ability to rethink and reshape their practices

London, U.K., 20 January 2020 – A new report entitled “A Brave New Bar: Are Barristers Ready to Rethink and Reshape their Practice”, published today by LexisNexis UK, a leading global provider of information and analytics; reveals that barristers predict an uncertain future for the Bar.Despite the challenging market conditions, there is a general sense of optimism across the profession with 67% of barristers expecting their practice to grow or remain stable for the next 3-5 years.  However, the survey highlighted that although barristers were confident about their own prospects, they were uncertain and concerned about the future of the Bar as a whole.

The rising costs of doing business emerged as a top 3 critical challenge for almost 40% of barristers.  Tuition fees, living costs, rents and business rates are putting pressures on the profession’s profitability.  Income is also increasingly at risk.  For Criminal and Family barristers doing publicly funded work, the cuts and changes to Legal Aid are a major concern.  Nearly 30% of barristers rated it as their number one most critical challenge. These financial pressures, combined with the long, unsociable hours has put managing wellbeing as a critical challenge facing barristers.

Despite 26% of barristers stating a mixed practice is a better way to grow versus 44% who believed specialism is better, barristers felt that – for the profession – specialisation is better, but to survive they need to diversify.  Direct Access is another avenue of work that barristers tend to shy away from with 91% stating that their work is instructed by a solicitor and only 11% of the sample doing Direct Access work. However, with technology tools 46% of barristers said that they don’t have the support they need to grow, with marketing and business development being an area where a lack of skills is widespread across the Bar.

“There is optimism across the profession, but clearly the Bar is at breaking point,” said Christopher O’Connor, Head of Segment Marketing at LexisNexis.  “How barristers operate, and approach work will have to change, for the Bar to be able to futureproof their sector within the legal profession.  Chambers need to consider new tools and legal technology that can free their barristers and staff from time consuming manual tasks to reduce long working hours’ and open up new business development avenues.”

To access the full report, please visit www.lexisnexis.co.uk/brave.

About the research

The ‘A Brave New Bar’ report was compiled using an online survey completed by 768 barristers in England and Wales. Respondents were from a wide geographical area and represented a broad sample of barristers in a variety of positions and areas of expertise. The research was conducted by a survey link sent by the Bar Council to its members, throughout June and July 2019.

About LexisNexis Legal & Professional

LexisNexis Legal & Professional is a leading global provider of legal, regulatory and business information and analytics that help customers increase productivity, improve decision-making and outcomes, and advance the rule of law around the world. As a digital pioneer, the company was the first to bring legal and business information online with its Lexis® and Nexis® services. LexisNexis Legal & Professional, which serves customers in more than 130 countries with 10,000 employees worldwide, is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.

 

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