Barristers from across the world have set up the first international group for advocates.
The Forum for Bar Advocates was formally established at a meeting during the International Bar Association's (IBA) New Delhi conference at the beginning of November.
It aims to help barristers promote their skills to solicitors as well as enabling them to exchange information and ideas on best practice. So far, barristers from the UK, South Africa, Australia and Hong Kong have joined the forum.
Up until now there has been no specialist barristers' group in the IBA and barristers have traditionally been very thin on the ground at its conferences. Of about 300 English lawyers at the New Delhi conference, only six were barristers.
Bar Council chairman Robert Owen QC, one of the driving forces behind the creation of the group, described the move as “very exciting”. He said he hoped it would encourage more barristers from around the world to join the IBA.
“We will use the forum to tell solicitors about our special skill and services,” he said.
“Far from being under threat, my analysis is that there will be tremendous opportunities for barristers in the next century.”
He added that the IBA was an ideal place for UK barristers to make contacts with international lawyers who wanted to refer work to lawyers in this country but were afraid of solicitors' firms poaching their clients. Intriguingly, however, the forum will be open to lawyers working in countries that have a fused profession specialising in referral work.
Owen said the select band of German solicitors who exercised rights of audience in the country's Supreme Court would be invited to join the group.