Why get Public Access Accredited with the Bar Council?

 As a facilitator on the Bar Council's Public Access course the central theme for me is around the four-letter word - RISK!

Much of my focus is to raise awareness of key stages along the process of a Public Access case (PA) and those points which represent a risk to the barrister and/or the PA client.  Once aware, we can decide how they are best managed and make an informed choice as to whether or not to take instructions on a PA basis. From my experience, the uptake on PA has grown enormously since its inception.  The way barristers are building it into their practices is varied. It ranges from those who focus in the main on PA work (some areas lend themselves to it more than others) whilst others are limiting what they will do to discrete pieces of work which is relatively low risk (e.g, advice work).  Others are using PA as a business development tool, meeting prospective clients and, where not suitable for PA, referring them to solicitors (obviously, in ways which are handbook and code compliant). This changes the very nature of the traditional solicitor /barrister relationship to the barrister becoming a referrer and supplier of work for those solicitors. 

A QC who had attended a PA Top Up course said that he now gets 20% of his income from saying "No thank you" to prospective PA clients. Another former participant has said to me that he now does a fair amount of PA work and it's a useful string to his bow. So Public Access is a great opportunity to create an additional income stream, but to work with existing solicitor referrers.

The course takes barristers on a learning journey, from an understanding of the rules  to  practical implementation (what they can and cannot do) in practice including: 

  •  Insights into best practice in building trust and knowing your client
  • How to spot vulnerability and assist the vulnerable client without becoming vulnerable
  • Managing client expectations and the client relationship where the solicitor is not available
  • Identifying clients' needs - conducting the client interview
  • Scoping the matter - what will you do/not do?
  • What does conducting litigation mean in practice?
  • Client care letters - review and analysis
  • Managing fees and money matters
  • Effective and efficient matter management
  • The role of the clerk in public access - team working
  • Complaints handling - best practice
  • Building your public access practice, new business models and opportunities

The course is designed to be highly interactive, to give barristers an opportunity to share experiences and ideas, gain insights through practical exercises (e.g. the client interview), give examples of successes, reflect on best practice (much of which is equally applicable to non-PA work) and top tips from experienced facilitators.

So why not come along and find how Public Access might fit into your practice?

Elspeth Mills Rendall is a barrister, former Chambers Director, Executive Coach, Negotiation Strategist and skills facilitator.

For more information on Public Access training and to register, please click here.