Barristers predict the amount of public access work they do will go up, according to a survey from the regulators.
Commissioned jointly by the Bar Standards Board and the Legal Services Board (LSB), the report, Research into the public access scheme, revealed that 5,695 – more than a third of the practising profession – are registered for public access work.
Half (54%) had dealt with one to five cases in the past 12 months, while only 2% have undertaken 50 or more cases.
On average, for around 60% of the 404 respondents, public access work accounted for one to 10% of their fee income.
The researchers acknowledged that the figures were small, but said they represent a significant increase over the past three years, and suggested the volumes will rise.
Respondents suggested that consumers lacked awareness of the scheme and, while some suggested it should be more widely publicised, there was a reluctance to do so overtly or without an assurance in any marketing that the scheme was not a threat to solicitors.
LSB head of research and development Steve Brooker, said: ‘While representing a relatively small proportion of a barristers’ caseload it is, nonetheless, growing.’
He said consumers are starting to see the benefits of ‘wider choice, improved timeliness of access to services and lower costs’.