Nearly a quarter of barristers are interested in forming businesses with clerks or other non-lawyers, and a third say they are either “fairly likely” or “very likely” to join a new business structure in the next five years.
These are the results of a YouGov survey of nearly 2,000 barristers and 141 clerks and practice managers, commissioned by the Bar Standards Board (“BSB”). The BSB is considering whether it should regulate legal businesses as well as individual barristers as new business structures permitted by the Legal Services Act 2007 become established.
An overwhelming majority of barristers (88 per cent) said they want the Bar to remain a separate and independent legal profession, and 84 per cent would prefer to be regulated by the BSB rather than another regulator, such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Nearly seven out of ten agreed it was in the public interest for the BSB to regulate entities as well as individual practitioners.
A third of barristers and 57 per cent of clerks thought they had a good understanding of the new business structures made possible by the Legal Services Act.
The BSB Chair, Baroness Deech said: “Barristers are at the coal face of delivering legal services to those who are most in need and it is imperative that the profession is properly consulted before the BSB makes any decisions on how those services are provided.
“The results show some interesting trends—alongside significant interest in new business structures, the survey revealed the value placed on self-employed practice and on the cornerstones of a separate and independent barristers’ profession. This underlines the importance of producing a comprehensive consultation paper that delves more deeply into the most important issues that BSB entity regulation raises.”