The purpose of the event was to provide an informal get-together which might stimulate questions and discussion and provide an opportunity to meet some of the Bar Council’s officers.

The Chairman — joined by the Chair of the Young Barristers’ Committee, Nichola Higgins and Family Law Bar Association Chairman, Stephen Cobb QC — set out some of the challenges and opportunities facing the Bar and recounted recent meetings he had attended with the Lord Chancellor, his Ministers and the Law Officers. He reminded attendees of some of the work the Bar Council has been undertaking on their behalf, including its detailed responses to the government’s legal aid and civil litigation funding consultations.

More than an hour of questions took place, covering a broad range of topics. These included the Bar Standards Board’s intentions on rule changes and the three-year rule for public access, the public’s attitude towards cuts and the Bar and what barristers can do to make the case for the profession. The panel was asked how they can best gauge the views of the Bar in order to represent their constituents’ interests.

The most energetic debate concerned the blurring of the lines between the role of the Bar and solicitors, particularly in light of last year’s rule changes. Some were in favour of maintaining a more traditional referral role, while others were keen to widen further the services which they can offer clients (Toby Craig).