In-house lawyers have used the Bar conference platform to issue a stark message to barristers in private practice: "If you want work from us you'll need to get your act together."
A panel of employed lawyers criticised what it called the Bar's old-fashioned attitudes and the failure by some to understand the needs of business.
They said they were keen to encourage more direct access, but poor marketing did little for the cause of the independent Bar.
Employed barrister Nicholas Dee, director of taxation with SmithKline Beecham, said barristers still tended "to look into their navels rather than looking outwards towards those who paid the bills". But he added that he was keen to give work to barristers and encouraged them to go out and make themselves known.
Jyoti Munsiff, company secretary for Shell Transport & Trading, said in-house lawyers had to justify their existence in terms of cost and value and there was no reason the Bar should be immune from such accountability.
"You have some of the finest minds but you must adapt your methods if we are to tap this brilliance for our mutual advantage," she said.
Jeffrey Gruder, barrister at 1 Essex Court, said even though barristers had done much to improve their service, people's perception of it was still about 10 years out of date.