Strengthening the Bar through research

29 May 2019

For years the Bar Council staff and officers (and our many committee members) have been aware that we need to invest on our capacity to conduct more insightful quantitative and qualitative research into the profession. 

We have launched successful research campaigns. The Bar Council's Working Lives Survey is now a feature of knowledge-gathering for the Bar, but we have also surveyed barristers on the Advocates' Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS), LASPO, secondment opportunities, products and services for barristers and chambers, and feedback on our lobbying and representational activities. We have spent some time collating and analysing the data and intelligence. This research has to be largely funded by the Bar Representation Fee (BRF), but we need to find more funding to conduct more research. 

As those of you who read Tweets from Bar Council members or read Bar Council minutes know, a new post of Research Manager, Cressida Miller, has been recruited at the Bar Council. She will be instrumental in deepening our understanding of practical research on the Bar, fees and funding. 

To conduct more sophisticated research and gather insights on both chambers operating models and on what the Bar is doing to become more resilient in these times of uncertainty, we need to partner with other organisations to do the work. 

The Bar Council's Services team is now scoping a project with global publishers LexisNexis on future-proofing the Bar, and with Thomson Reuters on chambers operating practices. These two research projects would cost the Bar Council in excess of £120,000 if we were to conduct them ourselves or commission them externally. We believe this research to be essential to strengthening further our understanding of what we, as a professional body, need to be doing in five years' time and adapting what we currently do for the Bar to ensure we are able to cater for these needs from 2023. 

I am keen gather your views, good or bad, on our proposed partnerships. These organisations already have strong links with the Bar Council and the legal sector, although collaboration in research is new ground for our partnerships. Our request for thoughts relates to your specific reactions to the Bar Council working together with LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters, to survey the Bar. Without your collaboration, no data will be obtained, so it's important to us to hear what you have to say before we progress. 

Please share your thoughts with me at IDiVanna@BarCouncil.org.uk or call me on +44 (0)7730 063159. 

Dr Isabel DiVanna, Commercial Director at the Bar Council.