Scottish bar looks to ape England’s ‘dynamism’

The Scottish bar is making swift efforts to parallel the English bar’s marketing and hospitality strategies, despite English efforts to crack down on the practices.

The move comes as the English Bar Standards Board closed its consultation last Thursday (1 March) which looked at whether entertainment of solicitors and other clients by barristers in England and Wales should be curbed.

Gerry Facenna, a barrister at Monckton Chambers, but also an advocate at the Flynn Stable, said there is a growing feeling in Scotland that advocates are losing out to the English bar in the international arena.

“Stables traditionally aren’t known for selling themselves so are looking to England for best practice,” Facenna said. “Scotland is also looking to see the outcome of the Clementi reforms, which could lead to the Scottish legal profession becoming more innovative.”

The Scottish bar’s marketing strategy till now has traditionally been through the Faculty of Advocates – the equivalent of the English Inns of Court. At the moment barristers are assigned to 11 different stables regardless of preference. But now at least five stables are lobbying the faculty to allow them to choose their own advocates so that they can market themselves as specialist sets.

Murray Stable, Westwater Stable and Black Stable are three such sets pushing for the change. But others feel that this does not go far enough.

May will see the launch of English-style chambers Oracle, which will have its own business development manager.

Advocate John Carruthers, who will be joining John Campbell QC when Oracle is launched, said they decided to break away from the faculty because the traditional nature of the Scottish bar did not allow for a more business-minded approach.

“In England things are very dynamic and very competitive and that’s not the same in Scotland,” said Carruthers.

A spokesman for the Faculty of Advocates said: “The company has no problem with advocates who wish to create their own business environments.”