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Daniel Sternberg @BarristerDan
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Thread: Andrew Walker QC’s inaugural address to the 2018 #BarCouncil
First, some admin, committee chairs and co-options for 2018 are approved.
AWQC: the bar’s Duty to the public and the rule of law is at the core of our profession. The Bar Council must put that at its heart in 2018, what do we need to achieve in 2018?
1. We have reached a turning point in several areas. 2. We should take (back) control of our standards and our future. 3. We should look to the future and chart a course for ourselves. 4. Communication with the bar in particular needs attention.
On regulation, we are a profession, not simply service providers. Our professional duties are deep in our psyche. The BSB must appreciate this. Encouraging a diverse profession and the rule of law are often absent from regulatory approaches.
The demise of QASA is a turning point. The BSB have challenged us to manage our own professionalism. The standards and professionalism in question are ours. We can take back control of them and challenge unnecessary regulatory burdens.
The new CPD scheme shows the way. Training by the Inns and the Keeble course show what we can do, as do @Inns_College materials on vulnerable witnesses, SBAs work on ethics.
We need to more of this. We need regulation that is wise, mature, sophisticated and effective. It should have. A proper understanding of the bar and dialog rather than diktat. Regulation is a shared responsibility. The public interest is at its heart.
Regulation does not require the profession to be distanced from it. We need to question whether more regulation is needed and if so why. The LSB need to give the bar space to do this and work with the BSB to do this.
We move on to how technology has changed barristers’ working lives. Now the bar spends less time in chambers. More communication is by email and twitter. The demand to answer has implications for our profession. We must not lose collegiality.
The Inns and circuits mix training and socialisation. Our regulators need to understand the importance of this. We should be proud of our work on well being.
The Bar has established an enviable reputation internationally. We owe much to our reputation based on commitment to the rule of law here and overseas. International work has made a difference to the bar including in family and crime.
We must donall@we can to salvage EU justice arrangements that help our citizens and profession. We should work with the government on post-Brexit opportunities. English law should be the law of trade and banking. Meanwhile we must defend the rule of law at home.
We must stand up on specific challenges posed by Brexit, threats to LPP and should educate the public on the importance of the rule of law. This includes the importance of legal aid and a properly funded justice system.
Changes to LASPO are possible, it has saved more than half a Billion £ than intended. The ‘savings’ are having impacts elsewhere. Our competitors internationally point to this as a reason to use their law.
The number of junior barristers has fallen, there are the same number under 5 years call as 26 years ago. We need to understand the factors driving loss make careers at the bar viable, improve cash flow for junior criminal bar in the Mags court &help junior bar be entrepreneurial
Much of the blame must lie with successive governments. Fixed fees fall in values and in crime have fallen by 40% in real terms. No one eleaenhas suffered like this, the criminal bar has been pushed to the limit. We are asked to do more for and with less.
It has been taken for granted that the bar will absorb this and accept deteriorating working conditions and being underpaid or unpaid. The effect on recruitment and retention is unsurprising. We must put the weight of the whole profession behind the publicly funded bar.
The whole profession is with you because we care. The publicly funded bar deals most closely with the public and without them proper access to justice can not be guaranteed. We must continue to argue against any further erosion in fixed fees and find solutions to unpaid work.
The Court improvement programme has many positive strands. The Bar seems to have been forgotten, misguided ideas like flexible operating hours are being taken forward. No one considered obvious consequences to the bar. Existing hours can be used more efficiently.
In some areas HMCTS have responded well. We must press for more focus on what we see the failt lines to be.
On communications the 2018 Chair will continue to prioritise listening to the Bar. He will visit every circuit and wants to know what is important to the bar.
What sort of profession do we want to be? This matters for diversity and inclusion where there is a long way to go. We must focus on recruting the brightest and best and retention. Future QCs must be diverse.
A full analysis of the data is needed to see what is working in encouraging a diverse profession. The bar’s traditions are not static and should be developed to ensure this. On retention, too many do not have a free choice between practice and caring responsiblilities.
We must press judges and HMCTS to make this possible. We will continue to support anyone who suffers from improper behaviour.
Returning to communication, we must talk more and make diversity part of our message. We have the support of the profession and its expertise and the dedicated staff of @thebarcouncil who let us punch above our weight.
What can we expect from Andrew Walker QC? He is a pragmatist who will analyse before deciding. He wants to see results, even if incremental. He says he will bring passion and focus and a willingness to do what is right.
We can show our determination and that the public’s trust is not misplaced.
That’s it from a succinct but punchy inaugural address from Andrew Walker QC. Thanks for following. For the #barcouncil fiends, the next meeting is 20 January 2018 at 10am. Thanks for following!
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