Letter: Defence of the Bar

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The call by Robert Sayer, President of the Law Society, for the creation of a single profession of lawyers (report, 30 October) will be welcomed by those barristers who see the solicitor as an unnecessary and expensive middleman.

His claims that solicitors provide a better service than barristers come at a time when, rightly or wrongly, the solicitors' profession is vilified for its poor level of service and failure to protect the public from negligent and unscrupulous practitioners; and when, for whatever reason, a majority of the solicitors who sit the exam to gain rights of audience in the higher courts, usually experienced practitioners, fail to pass.

Nor can Mr Sayer claim barristers are an additional cost. There is a division of labour between the solicitor and barrister. Barristers are in fact cheaper litigators than solicitors, while offering specialist legal knowledge and skills in advocacy, which is why solicitors continue to instruct barristers to undertake work they could do themselves.

Mr Sayer's attack on the Bar is not in the public interest or in the interests of the majority of the Law Society's members. At present small and medium-sized high-street firms of solicitors are able to compete effectively with large and expensive specialist litigation firms through their access to the Bar. Long may it last.

JULIAN SMITH

Barrister

London WC2

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