This year it finds a new home at the Hilton London Metropole where on Saturday, 6 November 2010, barristers, clerks, solicitors and many others will convene for a packed programme that will consider core values, the changes arising from the Legal Services Act 2007 and how domestic and international opportunities can be improved.

The theme

The theme of this year’s Conference, Raising the Bar: Core Values v Opportunities, is a celebration of the founding principles of the profession. But it also puts practice development under the spotlight and explores how business opportunities can be taken advantage of without compromising on values. In the wake of the Legal Services Act 2007, and an increasingly globalised legal marketplace, the nature of the Bar’s services will change, and it is right for the profession to come together and debate the future of the Bar.

Chairman of the Bar, Nick Green QC, will outline his evolving vision for the future of the Bar and how it can not only survive, but grow stronger in the decades ahead. For many, this will sound like an unachievable feat, but delegates will leave the auditorium able to understand better the opportunities that lie underneath the changes.

What’s in it for you?

As well as up to 7.5 ever enticing CPD points, this year:

  • An exciting array of speakers from across the legal and political spectrum, with an opening session including the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, the Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC MP, and a special appearance by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson;
  • A range of specialist workshops, reflecting the diverse interests of our delegates;
  • Stimulating and engaging plenary sessions and the opportunity to contribute to our Open Forum debate (including a new interactive Live Talkback facility);
  • Frozen ticket prices for a second successive year at pre-2007 levels, thanks to generous support from our commercial sponsors and from the Inns and Circuits (including limited free accommodation at Gray’s Inn for those under three years’ Call who are travelling from outside London); and
  • The Bar Scholarship Trust is also heavily subsidising places for those under two years’ Call for the first 50 applicants (£100 per ticket), which are nearly sold out. Most Circuits are offering some financial assistance for their members to attend the conference and more details are available from the individual Circuit Administrators.


The specialist sessions

The specialist sessions, hosted by SBAs, Circuits and other Bar groups will engage with topics including criminal, family, commercial and chancery law issues, regulatory affairs and offer advocacy training. Three particular highlights are:

(1) Broader horizons: How the core values of the criminal Bar offer wider opportunities
Criminal Bar Association Chairman, Christopher Kinch QC, will moderate a speaking panel including Brian Altman QC, Jeremy Dein QC, Michael Hillman and Sean Larkin QC, which will discuss:

  • Achieving excellence in prosecution;
  • The criminal defence specialist;
  • Going in-house; and
  • Advantages and disadvantages of “super-specialisation”.

(2) The changing face of the Commercial Court
Organised by the Commercial Bar Association, this workshop sees the return of the popular interactive roundtable discussion format, as commercial practitioners debate topics including:

  • Are the proposed reforms to the Commercial Court, in terms of costs and procedures, in the interests of end-users?
  • What are the attractions of alternative or arbitral fora?
  • Is enough protection currently given to choice of law, jurisdiction and arbitration clauses, both under the traditional English rules and under the Jurisdiction Regulation?

(3) Advanced Advocacy Skills
Advocacy skills and expertise lie at the core of the Bar, being a mark of distinction essential to the future of the profession. Most successful advocates are not simply born with these skills, they acquire them through learning by doing.

Each year the South Eastern Circuit runs the Keble Advanced International Advocacy Course in Oxford. The course is renowned worldwide for successfully teaching advocacy. Its teaching structures and techniques have been exported to many other common law jurisdictions.

This interactive workshop will draw upon the key highlights of the course to provide delegates with an opportunity to focus on how their advocacy skills may successfully be developed, regardless of area of practice and seniority. It will consider skeleton arguments, opening and closing speeches and key examination/cross-examination techniques.

To register

The Annual Bar Conference is the profession’s only event which seeks to draw all walks of the legal community under one roof to debate the Bar’s future. Each year the calibre of speakers bring a rich programme to life and the Jubilee Conference will keep up the tradition.

To register for this year’s 25th Bar Conference, please visit or call 01202 699 488.

Kim Hollis QC is Chair of the Bar Conference Organisation Board. Toby Craig is the Bar Council’s Head of Communications

The highlights

We are delighted to welcome the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC MP, a longstanding friend of, and contributor to, the Bar Conference to open this 25th annual event. The keynote address will be delivered by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, whose report on Entry to the Bar in 2007 has had an enormous influence on the Bar’s approach to access to the profession.

The Open Forum debate, which concludes the Conference, will address “the ‘price’ of freedom”. Chaired by BBC Home Affairs Correspondent, Danny Shaw, the panel will include:

  • Former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and Liberal Democrat London Mayoral candidate, Brian Paddick;
  • Lieutenant Colonel Yvonne Bradley, US Air Force Defence Attorney at Guantanamo Bay; and
  • Edward Fitzgerald CBE QC, Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2009.

The panel will address whether the rule of law and principles of natural justice need to be balanced against economic imperatives, particularly in an “age of austerity”. It will also examine to what these end these principles need to be flexible to guarantee security and arguably freedom.