The Bar of Ireland is the term used to describe an independent referral bar that has a current membership of approximately 2,300 practising barristers of whom over 300 are Senior Counsel (or “silks”). Most barristers reside in Dublin. Ireland is divided into circuits and for organisational reasons, barristers are attached to certain circuits.
The Law Library of Ireland
Whilst a large proportion of barristers have their own individual offices, many practising barristers are also members of the Law Library, a collective structure which facilitates the sharing of knowledge, experience and administrative resources.
The Law Library has facilities located at the Four Courts in Dublin, the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin and adjacent to the courthouse in Cork and is a bustling hive of activity from which barristers work.
There is information on the history and role of barristers in Ireland and how to qualify as a barrister. Two searchable directories allow for selection of those members of the Irish bar who also work as mediators and arbitrators. There is information on Direct Professional Access, legal associations and the library and information services used by Irish barristers with the Law Library now holding 130,000 volumes as well as modern electronic communications and services.
There is a searchable directory of barristers on the site linked to the Bar Council’s own current database, with full contact details and specialisms.
The Honorable Society of King’s Inns
Founded in 1541 under a lease from Henry VIII, the Honorable Society of King’s Inns is Ireland’s oldest legal institution and oldest School of Law. Many famous legal and political figures over the past centuries have been members of the Society or are former participants in our legal education courses. The Society is the competent authority in the Republic of Ireland for the admission of successful students to the degree of barrister-at-law. The Benchers may disbar barristers at their own request or as may be required by the Professional Practices Committee. In most other matters, it is the council of King’s Inns that oversees the day-to-day management and development of the Society.
The Bar Council of Ireland (which looks after the professional interests of practising barristers) has a number of representatives on the King’s Inns council and this ensures that there is good dialogue between both organisations. There are also two non-practising barristers on King’s Inns council.
The King’s Inns site carries information about its courses: a diploma in legal studies and the full-time and modular courses leading to the degree of barrister-at-law.
The courses are given by members of the practising bar. The judiciary is involved in tutorials, moots, motion lists, and other practical aspects of the profession. Graduates of the degree course are called to the Bar of Ireland by the Chief Justice.
The King’s Inns site also carries information about the services it provides for its members as well as the history and architecture of the Inns. Also on the site are sections about the lovely Library at King’s Inns.
Individual barristers and services relating to selecting a barrister
Barrister Kieron Wood’s website contains extensive information on Irish legal matters. It includes the most recent caselaw on Irish defamation and perjury, an update on tenancies and wills, a list of simplified legal terms, the latest on Irish family law, data protection, labour law, access to court documents and how to become an Irish citizen (useful in the case of Brexit!). He has recently published a paperback on General Dwight Eisenhower and his reputed Irish girlfriend, Ike’s Irish Lover (see here) as well as a series of legal works, including the first book on the new Court of Appeal, a paperback on contempt of Parliament and a hefty volume on Irish family law.
Brief Counsel Ltd helps Irish solicitors select and manage Irish barristers. The company (set up by a barrister and an Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year winner) finds solicitors the most appropriate barrister for their case from all 2,100-plus barristers currently practicing in Ireland. The company can get competitive tenders from multiple barristers, find the best barrister for the fee proposed by the solicitor, and guarantee service standards such as deadlines for written work by counsel. The company’s services, which are free of charge for solicitors, are complementary to those of the Law Library and have been operating successfully since 2008 on a pilot basis with selected solicitors and barristers before going public recently following regulatory clearance for the business. Brief Counsel Ltd says that it is always happy to hear from non-Irish lawyers and professional clients seeking the services of Irish barristers.