You can brief a barrister through your solicitor or, in some cases, directly. The process is straightforward and a barristers' clerk or a barrister will be able to guide you through what you need to provide.
In most cases, members of the public who wish to initiate (or respond to) a legal action in Victoria against another person, company or organisation will first instruct a solicitor who holds a current practising certificate. The solicitor might be a partner or employee of a law firm, or might operate as a sole practitioner.
How should I start?
Before initiating legal action, the solicitor will provide you with relevant advice such as whether you have a cause of legal action, who you will be taking legal action against and under what law and rules, what type of legal action is involved, in which court the matter will be heard and what procedures will be followed and, importantly, the cost involved and the likelihood of success.
If a member of the public initiates legal action, it is a civil action. A civil action usually starts by filing a legal document (usually referred to as a complaint, application or writ) which launches your claim in the relevant court.
Engaging the barrister
The instructing solicitor will very often engage a barrister on behalf of the client for a court appearance. The instructing solicitor may recommend a particular barrister, or select the barrister in consultation with the client. In many cases, the instructing solicitor will liaise with at least one barrister's clerk and seek a recommendation on who to engage, based on expertise, experience and availability.
Once the barrister has been selected, the instructing solicitor will be able to provide a stronger indication of the likely costs involved. Further information about costs is available on our Fees page. The solicitor will then be responsible for finalising the arrangement via the barrister's clerk and providing relevant documentation.
If you believe that you may not be able to afford legal representation, there are a number of services that may be able to assist you. Read more here.
(Solicitors employed by companies, organisations or government bodies as in-house counsel)
Corporate counsel who hold a Victorian practising certificate may engage a barrister directly in the same way as their law firm counterparts. See our section on Direct Briefing for the Legal Profession for more detailed information. Patent and Trade Marks Attorneys are also able to brief a barrister directly.
In Criminal Matters
In many matters it is possible for clients to brief a barrister directly. This can be a much more cost effective option than first engaging a solicitor and then a barrister. The Bar's BarristerCONNECT website guides you through a simple no obligation, on-line process to select the right barrister for criminal matters in the Magistrates' Court.
Professional organisations and practitioners can also brief barristers directly. For specialised advice, or to appear in circumstances where a solicitor is not required. When directly engaging a barrister you will be provided with an Information to a Prospective Client disclosure statement (below) as required under Rule 22 of the Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015.