Supporting the Employed Bar

The Bar Council is committed to supporting the whole barristers' profession, including the employed/in-house Bar. 

In 2016, the Bar Council worked on many projects specifically aimed at supporting employed barristers, and more initiatives are planned for 2017 and beyond. 

Chairman of the Bar, Andrew Langdon QC, sets out in more detail below what the Bar Council is doing in the interests of the employed Bar. 

Message from the Chairman of the Bar

I am seeking your support of the work of the Bar Council through your payment of the annual £100 Bar Representation Fee (BRF) this year. Much of our work is supported by the funds raised through this fee.  

As I have said publicly, I take the view that employed barristers are an asset to the Bar. You are prized, among other things, for the independent advice you give to your employers and for meeting the challenge of maintaining your professional independence. The Employed Bar is a vibrant and influential voice, not just within the profession, but within the Government Legal Services, the Crown Prosecution Service, law firms, in businesses across a range of sectors, and right across the NGO and third sector.

I am aware that over the last 18 months, the Bar Council's Employed Barristers' Committee has made substantial progress in bringing to the fore issues of concern to the Employed Bar, and we are taking these issues on board, in part through your valuable feedback provided through the Employed Bar Survey.  We are committed to ensuring that the contribution the Employed Bar makes to the profession, and to society, is properly recognised.

As Chairman of the Bar, my aim is to build a personal relationship between you and the Bar Council, ensuring we do everything that we can to promote the interests of the profession and its work in the public interest, and to support individuals as they progress through their careers. This work is only possible because most barristers (including a significant proportion of the Employed Bar) pay the Bar Representation Fee (BRF). If all members stopped paying the BRF, the Bar Council could not represent you effectively or, in some cases, at all.

I would just like to remind you that, as was the position last year, your employer no longer pays the BRF automatically. As per last year, it is very simple for you to pay this on an individual basis. Please see the details at the bottom of this letter.

You can see below some key examples of the work carried out by the Bar Council. I hope that you will want to support the profession by paying the BRF this year to support all our vital work, helping us to help you and make a difference in our society.

Last year's BRF payments helped us support the following activity:

  • Holding the Lord Chancellor to account for her failure to defend the independence of the judiciary in the face of attacks from the media following the Article 50 High Court ruling 

  • Working to try to protect Legal Professional Privilege during the passage of the Investigatory Powers Act 

  • Meeting the threat to the civil Bar of the fixed recoverable costs proposals 

  • Ensuring the voice of practising barristers remains influential in the 'Transformation' court reform programme 

  • Responding to over 50 consultations annually on your behalf, including responses which are often heeded by policy makers and which help shape law reforms in critical areas 

  • Challenging the Government on the increase in court and tribunal fees and charges 

  • Working to protect and enhance international work opportunities during and beyond Brexit (see more below) 

  • Delivering the Wellbeing at the Bar Portal (see more below), and 

  • Providing practical help through our Ethical Enquires Service and on matters of Equality and Diversity (see more below). 

This year the Bar Council will be continuing such work and is again doing everything it can to promote the Bar of England and Wales here and abroad. Payment of the BRF will make that possible. 

A little more about our efforts concerning Brexit

A substantial proportion of what we are doing at the moment necessarily involves advising and lobbying the Government in relation to consequences of Brexit and the myriad of ways in which the position of those we serve and our profession itself will be affected. The recent publication of the Bar Council's Brexit Papers has helped ministers and civil servants pin point the most pressing legal concerns arising from the UK's withdrawal from the EU. We have met with senior representatives of a wide range of government departments to discuss the issues and implications of Brexit.

And our international effort…

The fact is that a significant proportion of barristers have an international practice, and that number is continuously increasing. Strengthening the ties with overseas Bar associations and international legal bodies though trade missions and exchange programmes is an essential part of our work in representing and promoting the profession around the world. 

 A little more detail about other ways in which we support you as an individual

  • Following the Employed Bar survey, the Bar Council is seeking to change the rules which prevent barristers employed by the Government Legal Service from applying for a judicial appointment. Work will continue with the Judicial Appointments Commission and QC Appointments to allow and encourage applications from the Employed Bar. The full survey report, including recommendations and actions the Employed Barristers' Committee will be taking throughout 2017, can be read here.
  • Another key issue the Bar Council will address is the need to promote the valuable work of the Employed Bar. Many employed barristers said that they feel their work is not adequately recognised. In light of this, the Bar Council will host the first Employed Bar Awards Ceremony, to take place on 30 June 2017. For more information, please visit www.employedbar.com.
  • The Bar Council, together with the Inns of Court and the Institute of Barristers' Clerks (IBC) launched a Wellbeing at the Bar Portal in October 2016 to provide support and advice tailored to barristers, clerks and chambers employees. It is a completely confidential resource for tips on implementing a wellbeing policy in chambers, to navigate a wellbeing issue with colleagues or more generally to learn about common problems faced by other successful barristers. With over 41,000 hits in the first month it is proving overwhelmingly popular. But this work is only possible because of funds raised through BRF payments.
  • Many employed barristers have also contacted the Bar Council to express the issues they face in undertaking pro bono work, due to the difficulties of finding insurance. The Employed Barristers' Committee is working to address this issue and will report back in 2017.
  • In support of barristers facing ethical challenges, the Ethics Enquiries Service continues to be highly valued by barristers seeking assistance in identifying, interpreting and complying with their professional obligations under the BSB Handbook. In addition to the Ethics line, which had around 6,000 phone call enquiries and hundreds of emails in 2016, the Bar Council provides advice to all barristers, pupils and all those working in chambers on matters affecting diversity and social mobility through its confidential Equality and Diversity Helpline. 

These are just some of the highlights. 

If you could see as I do, the commitment of Bar Council staff, and of committee members numbering approximately 120 barristers who give freely of their time to support the profession and the public interests it serves, you would have no hesitation in concluding that the BRF, which provides crucial support to all this work, is very good value for money.

If you want to support the Bar Council's work in these areas and in other essential matters for the profession, please this year do pay the BRF.

Paying the annual BRF payment of £100 is easy and you can do so effortlessly while making your declarations and paying for your Practising Certificate through the Barrister Connect portal.

Alternatively, the payment can also be made by card or by sending a cheque to the Bar Council's offices. Or if you prefer, payments for the BRF can now be made monthly via Direct Debit to spread the cost throughout the year. It's very simple to do and only £8.34 per month. Please click here  to download the Direct Debit form. Complete it and send it back to our Member Services team on the email MemberServices@BarCouncil.org.uk, or contact them on +44 (0)20 7611 1321 .

I urge you to help us to continue all this important work. That will only be possible with your support.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Langdon QC

Chairman of the Bar