EMPLOYED barristers are to discuss calls for barristers to be allowed to enter in to partnerships with solicitors and accountants at a meeting to test opinion in the sector on a range of contentious issues.

The Bar Association for Commerce, Finance and Industry (Bacfi) has taken the unusual step of inviting its members to an open meeting later this month.

On the agenda are some of the employed Bar's long-standing bugbears, such as rights of audience and rights to conduct litigation which are currently denied to them.

But a range of newer topics will also be tabled for discussion, including the uncertain status of employed barristers, many of whom must describe themselves as “non-practising” despite the fact that they have been employed partly for their legal skills.

The meeting will also discuss calls from within the employed Bar for partnership rights to be given to barristers who wish either to form partnerships with barristers or with other professionals such as solicitors and accountants.

Bacfi chair Peter Styles, who is trying to boost the standing and influence of the employed Bar, said the association's leadership wanted to test the level of support in the organisation on a range of issues.

He added: “We have some very strong views on the management committee, but we need to know whether other people feel these issues are as important as we do.”

Styles, who is also vice-president of the energy company Enron, added that the Bar could seize the competitive initiative if it liberalised its practices.

The meeting is on 30 October at 6.30pm at the Mercury Communications offices in Red Lion Square, London.