This year’s event provides a platform for the profession, collectively, to determine how it wants to offer its services in a rapidly evolving legal landscape. It will also provide a showcase of the very best the Bar has to offer as a dynamic, directly accessible and highly mobile profession, which works in the public interest and in the interests of its diverse and growing client base.

The theme

The theme for this year’s Conference is Shaping the future: A modern Bar for a modern market. Many barristers are instinctively uncomfortable with the idea of competing in a marketplace, but much of the Bar has been doing exactly that for some time. All the indications are that the trend towards competition is continuing.

The Bar has the expertise and experience to thrive. It must engage with how it intends to meet the challenges ahead, whilst preserving all of the values and qualities that set the Bar apart. In order to flourish, barristers will have to be more prepared to see the services they provide as a business, which fits the demands of modern professional clients, and in a world of direct access, consumers.

What’s in it for you?

Just to get it out of the way, up to 7.5 CPD points are available once again, but it offers more than that:

  • an enticing array of speakers from the business world, the legal profession, politics and the judiciary, including Robert Webb QC, the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC MP, the Honourable Mrs Justice Theis DBE and Michael Smyth CBE;
  • a range of specialist workshops reflecting the diverse interests of our delegates;
  • thought provoking and engaging plenary sessions and a dedicated Bar Conference Twitter hashtag for delegates to provide live and interactive feedback; the largest conference in the Bar’s calendar and as a result, a significant networking platform. With a large exhibition hall, there will be the opportunity to engage with a wide range of businesses and service providers, as well as other, forward thinking legal professionals;
  • competitive ticket prices, including a special discount for those who have paid their Members’ Services Fee (MSF), thanks to generous supports from our commercial sponsors and from Inner Temple and Gray’s Inn; and
  • heavily subsidised places (by the Bar Scholarship Trust) for those under two years’ Call for the first 50 applicants (£100 per ticket). Information on individual Circuit assistance can be obtained from Circuit Administrators.



The Conference workshops offer a range of specialist sessions, hosted by Specialist Bar Associations, Bar Council Committees and other Bar Groups. All following the Conference theme, the workshops will include criminal, family, commercial, civil, regulatory, international and equality issues. Three highlights are:

1)What a difference a year makes: Working with the Coalition and the Comprehensive Spending Review – Criminal Bar Association Chairman, Max Hill QC, will moderate a speaking panel which will discuss:

  • responding to legal aid cuts;
  • diversification away from publicly funded work; and
  • Public Access and the criminal Bar.


2) Direct Access work in the 21st Century – arranged by the Access to the Bar Committee and Public Access Bar Association, Susan Jacklin QC and Marc Beaumont will:

  • feature a mock conference with a Public Access client;
  • consider the growing success of Public Access; and
  • look to the future and consider the role of Public Access in how barristers operate.

3) What entity regulation could mean for you – arranged by the Bar Standards Board, the session will contemplate:

  • the permitted services that entities will be able to offer;
  • relaxing the prohibition on litigation; and
  • possible education and training impacts for the profession.


The highlights:

We are delighted to welcome Robert Webb QC, who will deliver this year’s keynote address, offering his perspectives on the opportunities ahead. A key figure with a glittering CV in both the legal and business worlds, Robert was Head of Chambers of 5 Bell Yard for 10 years, before being appointed General Counsel at British Airways from 1998 to 2009. Now a door tenant at Brick Court, Robert is currently Chairman of Autonomy Plc, BBC Worldwide and Sciemus Ltd. He is a Non-Executive Director of the BBC, the London Stock Exchange, Argent Group Plc and Hakluyt Limited.

The Conference will close with a plenary Open Forum, providing a timely debate on Life after legal aid. This session will consider what might fill the gap left by the wholesale withdrawal of legal aid from some areas, in terms of insurance or alternative funding systems. Moderated by presenter and broadcaster, Simon Fanshawe, panellists will include:

Michael Smyth CBE, who spent twenty years as a partner at leading global law firm, Clifford Chance, including taking overall responsibility for its pro bono activities;

The Honourable Mrs Justice Theis DBE, and Peter Smith, Managing Director of Legal Expenses at FirstAssist Legal Protection.

To register

Since 1986, the Annual Bar Conference has been a highlight in the Bar’s calendar and is the only conference which brings together all members of the Bar community for a full day of debate, discussion and networking.

To register for this year’s Bar Conference, please log in to the conference website at or call 020 7611 1492.

Taryn Lee Chair of the Bar Conference Organising Board
Toby Craig The Bar Council’s Head of Communications