A group of direct access barristers specialising in “high street” practice have opened in the North East with hopes to take the regional circuit by storm.
Barristers & Co, which also operates offices in Yorkshire, has opened a Pilgrim Street base, led by Amanda de Winter.
Until new Public Access Rules were introduced in 2004, barristers had to be instructed by solicitors, commercial organisations and government bodies.
While direct access barristers have been available for 10 years, Barristers & Co market themselves as the first “high street” firm and are based out of the restored Alderman Fenwick’s House in Newcastle city centre.
Ms de Winter was called to the Bar in 1998 and previously worked as a solicitor for seven years. She was one of the first direct access barristers to obtain authorisation to conduct litigation in January 2014.
She said: “Direct Access has actually been around since important changes in the regulations were made by the Bar Council in July 2004. These allowed individuals to contact a barrister directly rather than going through the additional expense of a solicitor, potentially saving clients a significant amount of money.
“Barristers & Co, in its High Street format offers all the same services that a client would expect from a High Street solicitor. There are very few services that cannot now be offered by direct access barristers such as ourselves.
“It is never easy to break the mould of the way legal services have been provided for such a long time but I decided to make the break and go for it. It is such a sound legal concept which clients have fully embraced elsewhere that I’m confident the model will prove successful in Newcastle – indeed, initial interest has been very encouraging so far.”
Barristers & Co say their services, as far as possible, will be billed under a fixed fee.