A London criminal firm is putting barristers in its virtual shop window in an effort to attract more high-end work.
Criminal defence firm Old Bailey Solicitors has set up a website that showcases a selection of top barristers from different chambers selected by the firm. The aim is to draw in clients attracted by the reputation of advocates who will represent them in court. No charge is made to appear on the site.
Solicitor-advocate David Osborne (pictured), the firm’s director, told the Gazette: ‘Looking across to the US, they have a fused profession and advocates tend to be in-house and it is the advocate that tends to attract the business.
‘Here we don’t have a fused profession but it struck me that we were missing a trick. If people are looking for representation in court they are looking for an advocate and in a sense the litigation side is separate to that.’
He said the financial relationship between barrister and solicitors would work in the same way as normal, with the key difference being that it would be the barristers rather than the solicitors’ firm ‘advertising’ services.
‘More and more people can now opt to go to a barrister first rather than a solicitor and this is an approach which doesn’t put solicitors and barristers in conflict with each other,’ Osborne said.
He added that while more barristers are doing direct access work, few have the set-up to be able to handle client relationships on the model his firm can offer.
Old Bailey Solicitors did not bid for a duty solicitor legal aid contract, meaning the firm needed to attract work in a different way.
Osborne hopes this model will help the firm attract ‘higher end… higher quality’ criminal defence work.