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I have an idea for a website where users make financial commitments and want to discuss the enforceability of those commitments, as well as regulations on holding committed money - what kind of solicitor do I speak to and how do I find them?

Initially I just want to discuss my idea and get an idea on whether it could work but would like formal advice.

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What kind of solicitor do I speak to?

How do I find them?

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ohwilleke's answer is amiss. He overlooked Direct Access, also known as Public Access, Barristers. You can find them on Direct Access Portal.

Outer Temple Chambers summates Direct Access the best.

The Direct Access Scheme allows you to engage a barrister directly. You can get the specialist of your choice, avoiding duplication of time, effort and cost. However it does mean that you, the potential client, must take responsibility for some of the preliminary work normally done by a solicitor or other professional. Research suggests that direct access to the Bar can be cheaper and can produce a better service for many legal issues, rather than going through a solicitor first. Barristers frequently have lower overheads and therefore lower hourly rates and if you come direct to the Bar, you may not have to pay for the services of a solicitor at all.

Direct Access is also commonly referred to as Public Access and is the term used to describe members of the public going directly to a barrister, rather than through a solicitor or other authorised litigator. Only barristers who have completed special direct access training are allowed to deal with members of the public directly. Some cases may not be suitable for Direct Access because of their emotional nature, because they are particularly complex, or because the type of work that needs to be done to prepare the case would be difficult for you and also may not be able to be undertaken by a barrister. If a barrister believes that your case would benefit from the involvement of a solicitor, we will tell you so.

What can a Direct Access barrister do?

While not every matter is suitable for Direct Access work, in the right circumstances you can benefit from a complete package of legal services without the need to pay for an additional legal team. Our barristers can provide you with direct, expert legal advice on a wide range of legal issues, involving the right experts as appropriate. This includes drafting contracts, terms of business and correspondence, statements from litigants and witnesses and instructions to expert witnesses, advising on the next steps in proceedings, drafting formal court documents and representing you in court or at a tribunal.

What can they not do?

If you are using a Direct Access barrister you may in some cases need to do some things yourself, including conducting litigation. “Conducting litigation” includes filing documents at court and serving documents on others. “Serving documents” on another person means a formal handing over of those documents to them. A Direct Access barrister should be able to tell you – before their appointment – what they can and can’t do and what you might need to do for yourself. You may need to be able to tackle certain administrative tasks to help your case along, without the help of another legal professional. For example, you may need to be able to gather together the papers and the evidence in support of your case. You may also need to file documents at court (for example, submit documents such as expert reports, case summaries or witness statements, depending on the case) and write to the court and other parties (although the barrister will be able to draft letters and other legal documents on your behalf). If you are not sure if you will be able to assist with the various administrative tasks for whatever reason, it is worth considering if it would be better to have a solicitor assist you with your case.

“Litigation” is when a legal case is taken to and through a court and some tribunals. Unlike solicitors, not all barristers are able to conduct litigation. If a barrister cannot do this for you and you have no solicitor acting for you, you will be a “litigant in person” and will be treated by the court and the other side as though you were acting without any legal assistance.

How is working with a direct access barrister different from going through a solicitor?

The main difference is that you will not have a solicitor managing your case for you, so you will need to do this yourself. This means you will be responsible for key tasks such as:

  • Organising case documents
  • Filling out forms
  • Writing letters and statements
  • Handling payment of the barrister’s fees and court fees
  • Any other administrative tasks relating to your case

A barrister instructed through the Public Access Scheme is not allowed to do any of the following:

  • Issue proceedings or applications.
  • Acknowledging service of proceedings
  • Provide their address as the address for service of proceedings
  • File documents at court
  • Serve documents on another party
  • Issue notices of appeal

However, a barrister can advise you on how to handle these matters yourself. However, a barrister can advise you on how to handle these matters yourself.

Quotations from other barristers' chambers in London

"Barristers are remarkably cost effective due to their low overheads. Our barristers mainly work from home which helps to reduce costs further. Many people who have instructed barristers directly have commented favourably regarding the cost of doing so. There is no duplication of work or costs, which often occur when a solicitor is also involved, therefore costs are not duplicated."

"Most barristers are self-employed and fiercely independent. They have no ‘firm’. They don’t have the resources of a firm, so they don’t have the financial overheads of running a firm. Barristers may be a cheaper option than a solicitor and you are dealing with one individual. Not a group. Nor is there the added expense of a solicitor and then a barrister."

Paying for two different types of lawyer to act for you in the same case can be expensive, particularly if an individual feels able to deal with the litigation on their own, but needs representation at court hearings or for complex drafting or legal advice.

Saving you money

When you instruct our direct access barristers, there are no solicitors’ fees to pay and no additional costs. In fact, we can actually save you money. We operate at very competitive rates, and we will tailor a fee structure to suit your individual requirements. We can do initial case assessments i.e. give you an indication of the strength or weakness of your case or likely level of award before you embark on costly litigation.

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  • I thought that barristers specialized in "courtroom advocacy and litigation". It doesn't sound like OP needs to go to court. Sep 23 at 0:09
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    @NateEldredge That boundary has long since been blurred with the introduction of the direct access scheme (which allows barristers do do work traditionally done by solicitors) and higher rights of audience (which allows solicitors to do work traditionally done by barristers). While some differences remain, barristers and solicitors are now functionally more equivalent than in the past, and specialisation is an individual choice rather than being decided by what type of lawyer you are.
    – JBentley
    Sep 23 at 10:15
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Hire a solicitor.

Unlike barristers, they are fairly easy to locate through advertising and/or word of mouth referrals. They aren't cheap, but their cheaper than barristers and nothing worth having is cheap.

An Internet search would work. Talking to people who've had similar work done for them in the past and were pleased is better.

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