The Bar Council is on the verge of setting up its own company to supply barristers with IT equipment, pensions, insurance, and even travel, The Lawyer can reveal.
The company - the first significant move into the commercial world by the council - will seek out bulk discounts for the profession and encourage suppliers to develop package deals specifically for barristers.
The council approved the proposal "in principle" this month, and Owen Davies QC, vice-chairman of the practice management and development committee, says planning is in "an advanced state".
"The idea is a servicing company which would be partly owned and run by the Bar Council and could offer preferential deals on a lot of things that are essential to the profession."
Stephen Hockman QC, chairman of the same committee, says they hope to have the company operating by the autumn. Market research is already "in progress". While it is too soon to reveal how much money will be needed to set the company up, he says he doesn't expect it to be "a massive initial capital investment".
"It does have the potential to become a significant operation. It would start off in a fairly small way and then grow. It's a long-term project.
"I suspect the package itself might still be sold by the company to the barristers, but on terms that we had negotiated. Although the company itself would not be the retailer, but a facilitator."
The company will mirror companies already servicing other professionals, such as accountants and solicitors. While it already offers a sponsored credit card, Davies says the company represents "a very big departure" for the council.