AN OPEN meeting is being held this week in a bid to encourage more solicitor advocates to apply for higher court rights of audience.

The open meeting at the Law Society's council chamber on Friday is being organised by the Young Solicitors Group which says it is “very concerned” at the “extremely limited take-up” of advocacy rights.

So far just 312 solicitors have gained advocacy rights in the higher courts despite the fact that many more lawyers are eligible to take the test to apply, according to the group.

It says the qualification requirements may be too rigid or the course too expensive and hard. It says low take-up may be caused by lack of interest.

YSG chair Lucy Winskell said solicitors appeared to be frightened of what should have been seen as an exciting opportunity which the profession campaigned long and hard to gain.

“We need to investigate what is the problem, and how we can encourage young solicitors to take the plunge.”

The group has invited several speakers to address the talks including society council member John Appleby, chair of the higher courts qualification appeals casework committee.

He suggested younger solicitors were gearing up to apply for advocacy rights once they were eligible to take the test.

Mark Humphries, litigation partner at Linklaters & Paines, has also been invited to speak. In last week's The Lawyer, Humphries said City firms were gearing up to offer fully integrated litigation services. “Eventually there will be no reason for any City firm to use a junior barrister in commercial litigation,” he said.