Many reasons for lack of new Bar work
11 March 2016
Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts has responded to criticism by his Bar Association counterpart about the lack of work available for young barristers – saying he sympathises with their plight but that it isn’t the fault of solicitors.
Mr Pott’s comments came in response to Bar Association president Christopher Hughes QC’s claims junior barristers were struggling to gain experience because of the decreasing levels of appropriate work.
“What’s happened over the years is the ‘nursery’ of smaller work that barristers cut their teeth on has been drying up,’’ Mr Hughes said.
Mr Potts responded saying: “This is nothing new – solicitors have always done a lot of court advocacy, and with good reason; many of them are very good at it
“There is no need to put a client to the cost of hiring counsel if the solicitor is a capable advocate.”
He said an alternate reason for the lack of work could be fee based.
“There are times when it would appear that young members of the bar overestimate the value they add to a matter, and perhaps price their services inappropriately,’’ he said.
“There is no logical reason that a solicitor with 10 years’ experience appearing in court should hand over thousands of dollars for a barrister who has been admitted for a year or two, just so the barrister can get an education – and it is hardly in the client’s best interests.”
Mr Potts said changes in the court could also be attributed on the availability of work.
"Magistrates rarely allow cross-examination at committal hearings any more, despite the fact that it leads to earlier pleas and frees up valuable court resources,’’ he said.
“If Magistrates started allowing this again, there would be more work for junior barristers, and much shorter delays in court.
“Of course, it almost goes without saying that if Queensland had sufficient judges, especially in the Federal Circuit and Family Courts, there would be a greater call on the services of all barristers."
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