Publicly funded Bar must diversify

New Bar Chairman’s inaugural speech

Peter Lodder QC, the new Chairman of the Bar Council, has called on publicly funded barristers to diversify their practices.

The Chairman reassured barristers who do legal aid work that they have a “realistic future”, but urged them to follow the lead of the privately funded Bar and to be “creative and entrepreneurial” in their pursuit of opportunities.

“The message is not that barristers must leave publicly funded work, but that in order to sustain that type of practice, they will almost certainly need to develop a mixed practice, incorporating privately as well as publicly funded work. The cuts to legal aid rates have been too numerous and too deep for young barristers to continue to rely upon publicly funded practice,” he said, in his inaugural speech to the Bar Council.

“Traditionally, barristers, within reason, have turned their hands to different areas of practice. It is the skill set, core values and the training which define us as much as the practice area.”

Last month, the Ministry of Justice restricted legal aid for civil and family matters as part of a £350m cuts package.

Lodder said he supported judicially assessed Quality Assurance for Advocates (“QAA”), and had plans to develop the work of the Advocacy Training Council.