Bar Council sites, Bar Associations, Bar Directories

The Bar council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes the Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services, fair access to justice for all, the highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and the development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad. There are now over 15,000 practising barristers, employed and self-employed, in England and Wales. Relatively recent rule changes to the way in which barristers work mean that the Bar is more accessible than ever through Public Access and Licensed Access. The official directory of barristers authorised to practise by the General Council of the Bar for England and Wales, the Bar Directory (see below) is the leading guide to barristers. The Bar Directory is published by Sweet & Maxwell.

The Bar Standards Board regulates barristers called to the Bar in England and Wales in the public interest. They are responsible for

  • Setting the education and training requirements for becoming a barrister;
  • Setting continuing training requirements to ensure that barristers' skills are maintained throughout their careers;
  • Setting standards of conduct for barristers;
  • Monitoring the service provided by barristers to assure quality;
  • Handling complaints against barristers and taking disciplinary or other action where appropriate.
    There is information on the Code of Conduct for barristers, how to complain about your barrister, how to qualify as a barrister and how to find a barrister. The data base of accredited CPD courses is also housed on this site.

    The Legal Hub is the home of the Bar Directory and Sweet & Maxwell's Expert Witness Directory. The Bar Directory covers the employed and practising bar and features over 12,500 barristers and 680 chambers. You can search by name, region or specialisation. There are 2,600 experts listed in the Expert Witness Directory which can also be searched by name, region or specialisation. It says on the site that all expert witnesses have been vetted and have agreed to abide by a strict Code of Practice and Terms and Conditions.

    The Pupilage Gateway (a successor to OLPAS, the online pupillage application system) provides information about pupillage, how to obtain it and how to offer it.

    The Faculty of Advocates (the Scottish Bar) is a body of independent lawyers who have been admitted to practise as Advocates before the Courts of Scotland. Faculty records date as far back as 1532 when the College of Justice was established by an Act of the Scottish Parliament, though its origins are believed to predate that event. There are 683 members. Approximately 417 of these are practising advocates, the remaining 266 includes judges, sheriffs, academics and retired members. Senior Counsel or "QCs" make up around one fifth of the practising membership. The Advocates Library is widely regarded as the finest working law library in the British Isles with a comprehensive range of materials built up over the last three hundred years. The site provides

  • History and composition of the Faculty of Advocates
  • Up-to-date "stable" listings and contact details for Advocates Clerks and deputies
  • Information to assist practitioners involved in, or considering, Direct Professional Access.

    Bar Pro Bono Unit has almost 1,000 barristers offering their services and hundreds of individuals receiving assistance with cases. The site provides information on the type of case the Unit considers, examples of cases it has assisted and the process of referring cases to barristers. There is a members-only area as well as the public area.

    The Chancery Bar Association is an association of over 1,000 barristers in private practice undertaking the commercial and property work which is associated with the Chancery Division of the High Court. The majority of members are in general Chancery Chambers, undertaking a broad spectrum of work, a major part of which is company and commercial litigation. The site is light and bright and informative. It gives the history of Chancery work and describes the sort of work involved. It lists all Chambers with members of the Chancery Bar Association and provides news and updates; it also has a good set of legal links.

    Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR) was formed over ten years ago, to bring together barristers who practise in the field of international and commercial law and who offer that service. Its members consist of sets of chambers in London where all or most of the barristers practise in this field, and of individual members, who are members of other chambers in which only a few are in such practice. The present membership amounts to some 900 barristers drawn from 48 sets of chambers, 28 of which have joined as chambers. Three of its former Chairmen are Judges of the Commercial Court. Thus, it truly represents the whole Commercial Bar and constitutes an impressive body of specialist expertise and advocacy skills in banking, insurance, international trade, shipping and other key commercial activities

    Criminal Bar Association is by far the largest of all the Specialist Bar Associations, with a current membership of nearly 4000. Formed in 1969, it exists to represent the views of the practising members of the independent criminal Bar in England and Wales. It also provides continuing professional development, accreditation, information about the law, programs to assist barristers in their work, advice and initiatives to improve the Criminal Justice System for the public. The Association is invariably invited to make written or oral submissions (either in its own right, or jointly or on behalf of the Bar Council) to all major inquiries or reviews of the criminal justice system. The International Sub-Committee maintains strong links with organisations such as the International Bar Association, the European Criminal Bar Association and the American Bar Association.

    Family Law Bar Association (FLBA) is the specialist bar association for family barristers. With about 1700 members, it organises conferences, seminars, meetings and social events throughout the country via its regional network and often in conjunction with Resolution. It produces a newsletter, Family Affairs, three times a year to keep its members up to date with events around the country and the more important changes in the law and procedure. Annually since 1992 it has published and sold At A Glance, a 90 page ready reckoner for use in financial cases. At A Glance is widely used by practitioners and the judiciary. In matters of law and procedural reform the FLBA is frequently consulted by government departments, including the Lord Chancellor's Department. All barristers practising in this field are encouraged to join the FLBA.

    The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. The IBA influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world. It has a membership of 30,000 individual lawyers and more than 195 bar associations and law societies spanning all continents. It has considerable expertise in providing assistance to the global legal community.

    The International Bar Association pro bono website has been created by the International Bar Association "to bring together the global community of professionals of every level who are involved in pro bono legal work on a local and on an international scale." It is a very comprehensive site with resources (for example, papers from conferences), articles written especially for the web site, information on events, discussion groups and various useful sets of links to other legal bodies worldwide.

    Professional Negligence Bar Association is represented on the General Council of the Bar and is an active consultee in the process of law reform and procedural changes. It carries the view of its members to the Bar Council, Lord Chancellors Department, Law Commission, and a variety of governmental and non-governmental organisations. It publishes the Professional Negligence Law Review, a newsletter produced by Sweet & Maxwell, and Tables for the Calculation of Damages, an annual edition. The great strength of the Association is that throughout the 1990s its members were at the cutting edge of major developments in the law as professional indemnity cases were used to develop wider legal concepts of rights and obligations in tort and in equity. Since being form in 1990, membership has grown to over 900 including over 80 silks. The work undertaken by its members includes generic professional indemnity issues and specialisation concerning legal, clinical, financial and construction professionals, and extends to matters of ethics, discipline, regulatory control and public law accountability.

    Property Bar Association is the professional body for Barristers in England & Wales who are able to certify in writing that not less than half of the matters that they deal with concern property or property-related work. PropBar had its inaugural meeting in November 2000 and now has nearly 200 members. It has been accredited by the Bar Council for the purposes of continuing professional development and the New Practitioners' Programme. It has also been accredited by the Law Society and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) for similar purposes. There is a programme of meetings and lectures and seminars. Papers, agendas and publications from past events can be found on the site.

    Revenue Bar Association brings together English barristers who practise in the taxation field. The majority of members are exclusively taxation specialists. Most can handle cases on all taxes. Some have particular fields of specialisation within the wide context of tax law. The others have mixed practices. Many do private client type of work and, in their tax practices, concentrate on the tax affecting trusts, estates and property. Others are criminal lawyers with particular expertise in cases about alleged tax or VAT frauds and the like. Tax barristers also deal with professional negligence and other litigation involving tax and judicial review where the Revenue or Customs have exceeded their powers.

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    If any bar group would like a signpost here (free of charge), please email me: delia@venables.co.uk

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