Having read Teresa Gorman's viewpoint in The Lawyer 10 December with a certain amount of curiosity, I was interested to see her refer to "the closed shop arrangement, whereby only solicitors or one of the other professionals can open the door to a barrister".
Perhaps she could consult with one of her numerous barrister colleagues in the Tory party, from Home Secretary Michael Howard QC to Ivan Lawrence QC, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, who could enlighten her as to the existence of direct professional access to the Bar.
Admittedly, this does not mean lay clients have access, but then neither do cheaper fees resulting from solicitors and barristers competing for business mean the resulting service would be better or as good. In any event, with the proposed cutbacks in legal aid, it seems that Mrs Gorman's admiration for the US system and its use of arbitration "to improve the image of the legal profession" may not necessarily be extended to the introduction last year of conditional fees.
As one client commented to me: "Does this mean the term ambulance-chasers will be in common usage in the UK?"