BarTalk readers know that the Bar Council's representational and lobbying work depends on the BRF funds. Compared to other professional bodies, the Bar and the Bar Council do well, with over 75 per cent of subscribers to the voluntary fee re-subscribing on an annual basis. But we are concerned that we lose 23 per cent of our subscribers on an annual basis (and we get new subscribers too, barristers who have never subscribed before, or not for many years). We want to know what we can do to encourage you to keep supporting our work for years to come.
What does the BRF pay for?
In essence, it pays for the bulk of our representational work. Some funds from your Practicing Certificate Fee are allocated to our work (only one-third of what you pay - the remaining two-thirds are allocated by the Bar Standards Board to regulatory work). This means that all the work we do on behalf of the young Bar (the future of the profession), the employed Bar, our equality and diversity initiatives, our wellbeing work, as well as our activities on social mobility, are all paid for by the BRF. In addition to this, much of our work on digital resources is paid for by the BRF: the Ethics Hub, containing easy to access guides to ensure compliance with the BSB Handbook, the Direct Access Portal, which promotes the work of barristers doing direct access to the public, and the Wellbeing at the Bar Hub are paid for by the BRF.
In addition to this, our lobbying work is BRF-funded. This includes research on LASPO, AGFS, immigration and other pressing issues facing the Bar. We cannot use PCF funds for lobbying in Parliament or Whitehall. Many activities in our international outreach are also BRF funded, often representing our voice on matters of rule of law and human rights overseas.
What do I get for the BRF?
You get the representative body acting on your behalf, on behalf of the whole profession, regardless of practice area or where you work. You are certain that we are working to support barristers in need and to promote the profession at home and abroad. You also get benefits which are attractive to barristers. These include Counsel magazine, access to the Direct Access Portal, access to arbitration and mediation services, in addition to discounts on Xexec and select partners of the Bar.
As always, if you want to know more about the BRF - or let us know how we can improve what we do and how we communicate about it - please contact me, Isabel DiVanna, Commercial Director, the Bar Council at IDiVanna@BarCouncil.org.uk