You can approach a barrister directly for advice. In many cases, a barrister can be engaged by your solicitor but there are many instances where you can brief a barrister directly.
In most cases, barristers act for clients when a solicitor has engaged them for the client. However, in some cases, a person may engage a barrister directly without going through a solicitor. This is what is called a Direct Access brief. The strategic and early engagement of a barrister through direct briefing can save time.
When is a Direct Access Brief possible for members of the Public?
A barrister may be engaged directly by members of the public in matters where a solicitor is not required.
BarristerCONNECT is a self-service portal offers to facilitate direct engagement with barristers in criminal matters in the Magistrates' Court. It provides a convenient and secure way to connect with barristers at the Victorian Bar.
A number of types of criminal matters in the Magistrates’ Court may be suitable for a Direct Access brief, including pleas of guilty, pleas of not guilty and bail applications.
Examples may include driving offences, dishonesty offences such as theft and fraud, robbery, burglary, assault related offences including sexual assault, drug offences and many other types of offences. For more information on how to directly brief a barrister for a criminal matter in the Magistrates' Court, see BarristerCONNECT's online portal.
In some circumstances a barrister can act on instructions from a person who is not a lawyer in commercial matters. Direct access work comes to barristers from corporations, accounting firms, government departments and others.
A barrister may be engaged directly on pre-litigation or advice work as well as in litigation depending on the type of matter if in court.
If your matter is suitable for a direct access brief, the barrister will provide you with an information to a prospective client disclosure statement as required under Rule 22 of the Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015. This must be signed and returned to your barrister before they can act for you.
There are certain cases that are not suitable for Direct Access briefs. Further information can be found in the Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015. Every case is unique and the barrister or barrister's clerk you engage will discuss this with you.
The barrister will send you a costs disclosure and fee agreement to confirm your engagement. The barrister will discuss with you what infomration should be provided to instruct them - the brief.
A typical brief might include:
The brief can be sent in electronic or hard copy form. The barrister or the barrister's clerk will discuss this with you in more detail.
Corporate solicitors, solicitors employed by government or other agencies and patent attorneys can brief barristers directly without going through an external legal firm. See our page on Direct Briefing for more information.