Annual Bar Conference 2016: How to make the most of new work opportunities

Understanding outsourcing, secondments and other non-traditional ways of working

With a title like this, it was not surprising that there was a good turnout for the morning session run by the Ethics Committee, with practitioners at every stage of their careers represented.


Speakers included: Andrew Walker QC, current committee Chairman; practitioners Andrew Granville Stafford and Fenner Moeiran QC; BSB staff member: Ewan Macleod; and from Clerksroom: Stephen Ward. Together, they presented different perspectives on official guidance and the situations one might find themselves in. Good practice, dual practice and everything in between was covered.

It was heartening to be told that some of the changes introduced by the 2014 edition of the Bar Standards Board (BSB) Handbook are still having some of their ramifications worked out. The definition of who is an ‘employed barrister’ in the handbook and the extent to which this covered both contracts ‘for services’ – as well as contract ‘of employment’ – was well debated, with the panel being asked to consider at least half a dozen scenarios. For younger barristers who are thinking about secondments, this was particularly pertinent.

Conflicts were covered, both in being considered, and recorded, as well as how Chinese walls operate in practice and variations thereof, with helpful suggestions as to how specific they might be, whether they were physical, or virtual, and evidenced, so as to minimise problems for the barristers, while not harming the client. Practicalities over insurance when practicing in multiple capacity at the same time was also covered, as were specific changes in how different people chose to address issues, with a useful checklist as to what is best avoided. A lively session that not even the lure of lunch could end, it definitely prompted people to share ideas and experiences, with the BSB presence allowing for the official line to be helpfully presented.

Contributor Melissa Coutinho

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Melissa Coutinho

Melissa Coutinho is a lawyer for the Government Legal Service An accredited arbitrator, qualified PPM practitioner and a magistrate, she also writes and lectures on medical products and their regulation.