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The Commercial Bar Association (Combar) is likely to vote in favour this week of allowing employed barristers to join its ranks following agreement in principle from the association's committees
If given the go-ahead English commercial barristers will benefit from the closer ties with employed barristers working in-house. There has been a marked increase in the drive by chambers and senior Bar Council members to attract work from in-house lawyers, both nationally and overseas, as well as from foreign law firms. Combar chairman Michael Brindle QC is involved in marketing barristers to in-house legal teams in the US and Continental Europe. Brindle's consultation paper on employed barristers' membership states: "We think that there is a significant untapped source of instruction for the commercial bar arising from those who are employed in-house within commercial enterprises or those involved in commercial or financial law. Many of these are barristers. "We have the opportunity to draw them close to our organisation and not only tap their goodwill but use their influence in advancing our interests." The North Eastern Circuit, after considering banning membership of employed barristers, granted them associate membership while the South Eastern Circuit has granted them full status. Proposals are being looked at to change the qualifications required for supervisors of pupils seeking to become employed barristers. Seven options are being looked at by a joint taskforce chaired by Rosalind Wright, head of the Serious Fraud Office. They include limiting the qualified person's advocacy experience to civil or criminal courts. The decision will be referred to the Lord Chancellor's Department.