COMPREHENSIVE practice management standards and guidelines for chambers are to be unveiled by the Bar Council this week.
The guidelines, contained in a user-friendly loose-leaf manual, are designed to give chambers a blueprint for a successfully run practice.
Together with the Equality Code for the Bar and the planned new clearing house scheme for chambers, the guidelines make up a formidable trio of Bar Council initiatives aimed at modernising chambers.
The document, which will be distributed to every chambers in the country, has sections on organisation and management, client care, equal opportunities, financial management, managing staff, management of briefs, chambers facilities, pupillages and court conduct.
It will advise chambers on the setting up of decision-making structures, dispute procedures, budget preparation, marketing strategies, management of records and fee collection.
In his foreword to the guidelines, to be launched on Tuesday, Bar Council chair Peter Goldsmith QC warns that the Bar "can no longer rely on a monopoly".
"It will survive and expand through excellence - all-round excellence, not just in the quality of its advocacy and specialist advisory work but its accessibility and the efficiency with which it provides its services."
Goldsmith says it is up to individual barristers and chambers to decide on how to face the challenge, but he adds that the need for advice has long been recognised.
The guidelines were drawn up in conjunction with Central Law Training management consultants.
Andrea Kennedy, director of chambers at Barnards Inn Chambers, welcomed the initiative.
She said: "I would like to think that we will already have implemented most of the document's recommendations, but we are open to any suggestions that the Bar Council has to offer."