Vanessa Davies, Director of the Bar Standards Board (BSB), spoke about Alternative Business Structures and Legal Disciplinary Practices in the regulatory context. There would be further consultation in the autumn on the proposed rules for entity regulation and the conduct of litigation. Any new rules were expected in early 2012.

Peter Lodder QC, Chairman of the Bar, spoke about ProcureCos. The Legal Services Commission had communicated its preference to contract in the future with providers who could offer a ‘cradle to grave’ service. The role of the Bar Council in relation to ProcureCos had been one of raising awareness of options for chambers to consider.

Susan Jacklin QC discussed Direct Access and the opportunities available to barristers to increase the areas in which they worked. One difficulty was rule 302 of the Bar Code of Conduct which states that a barrister cannot undertake work where a lay client is eligible to receive public funding. The Bar Council was in dialogue with the BSB over what was in some cases a barrier to the provision of a service to lay clients.

Christine Kings, Commercial Director of Outer Temple Chambers, encouraged chambers to do their own research on ProcureCos and other procurement vehicles. They should also consider offering a niche service or product. For example, specialist mediation to deal with the end of civil partnership, an integrated and specialist risk management service aimed at particular groups of people and developing the concept of “having your own lawyer”. Paul Mendelle QC gave a brief update on LSC contracting and reported that the government’s position was unclear. An update was expected towards the end of the year.

Taryn Lee led the discussion on Local Authority contracting. Dr Mirza Ahmad, Chairman of the Bar Association for Local Government and the Public Service, said that the Bar should be prepared to offer local authorities reduced costs in return for an increased volume of work.