Briefing a barrister

Barristers can be briefed by solicitors, by in-house counsel with a current practising certificate or, in some circumstances, by a person who is not a lawyer. 

'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. For more information, see the Bar Association’s direct briefing page for in-house counsel.

The brief

The barrister or the barrister’s clerk 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 the barrister’s 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. 

A toolkit for briefing

The Bar Association has prepared a toolkit that contains precedent documents to assist solicitors and in-house counsel to prepare a brief for a barrister (either in hard copy or electronic format). The toolkit contains the following documents:

Find the right barrister

Find a Barrister is an online database with the contact details of those barristers who are members of the New South Wales Bar Association with current practising certificates and who have agreed to their details being made available. The Find a Barrister database also identifies, where applicable, the clerk of each barrister. 

Barristers tend to work from sets of chambers or ‘floors', with a clerk (or practice manager) who is the general point of contact. The clerk can answer questions about areas of practice and answer questions about a barrister’s experience, rates and availability.

How do I pay a barrister?

There is no set form, but an itemised bill should specify in detail how the legal costs are made up in a way so as to allow costs to be assessed. Learn more here.