For in-house counsel

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What is direct briefing?

Direct briefing occurs where a corporate or government lawyer briefs a barrister directly, without using an external solicitor. Any in-house lawyer with a current practising certificate can directly brief a barrister.

What is direct access?

In some circumstances, barristers can also accept instructions from a person who is not a lawyer. This type of work is generally known as ‘direct access’. Sometimes direct access work comes to a barrister from corporations, accounting firms or government departments who do not employ their own in-house solicitors. 

What does the bar offer?

The advantages of direct briefing are numerous. Strategic, early and direct involvement of a barrister saves time and money. And the New South Wales Bar offers an alternative to in-house counsel seeking access to specialist expertise in every area of the law.

Work suitable for direct briefing

Direct briefing is particularly suited to urgent applications and less complex matters. However, barristers also provide legal advice – written or in conference - on dispute resolution and can review documents for particular issues, for example: tax, human resources/employment, restraint of trade, public relations/media, regulatory/compliance issues.

Find the right barrister

Barristers tend to work from sets of chambers or ‘floors', with a clerk (or practice manager) who is the general point of contact. Most barristers’ chambers have a website, which generally provides information on the areas of practice of individual barristers. The Find a Barrister facility on the Bar Association’s website lists details of many members of the New South Wales Bar Association.

The barristers' clerk

The clerk can answer questions about areas of practice and answer questions about a barrister’s experience, rates and availability. 

What next?

Once you confirm the engagement of the barrister, the barrister will send you a fee disclosure or costs agreement.

Prepare a brief to the barrister. The barrister will be happy to discuss what should be included in the brief if assistance is required. Generally the brief should contain:

  • some brief observations of the facts relating to the work the barrister is asked to perform;
  • the specific questions (if any) upon which advice is sought; and
  • the documents relevant to the issues.

Traditionally briefs are hardcopy folders, but many barristers now accept electronic briefs, particularly in urgent matters. Discuss this with the barrister or the barrister’s clerk.