Dever’s List is the oldest List of Barristers at the Victorian Bar, having started operation in 1860. Foley’s and Muir’s (now Meldrum's) Lists began operation very shortly thereafter, with others beginning in the years following. In the last 30 years the number of Clerks has increased from 6 to 13 with the number of Barristers increasing from approximately 450 to 2200 as of 2020.
Finding the appropriate Barrister for a particular brief can be a time-consuming task. Searching for someone who is appropriate to handle the case, contacting them and ensuring that they are available on the day of the hearing are all questions to which a Clerk can provide answers promptly and efficiently.
A Barristers' Clerk acts as an advisor and consultant for solicitors to assist them in connecting with barristers. As advisors, Barristers’ Clerks are familiar with the skills, expertise, experience and availability of the barristers on their List and can liaise with solicitors and clients to help match them with the best choice of representation for each matter.
As the Barristers’ Clerk have detailed knowledge about the availability of the barristers on their list via the latest software diary sync technology, they can provide lawyers and others with up to the minute information about the availability of those barristers, as well as advising on the choice of barrister.
A Clerk can provide a list of suitable Barristers. In making recommendations, if required, a Clerk will consider the barrister's expertise, performance, fees and personality.
Even if the Barrister has already been chosen, it is sensible to contact the Clerk regarding availability, costs etc.
As a further benefit, Clerks are able to put you in touch with new "prospects"; talented Barristers who are not as yet widely known.
The Clerk’s Office can inform you regarding the movements of any Barrister on the List, take messages or locate and notify the Barrister in urgent situations.
A computerised diary system has bookings well ahead of time. Within seconds, a Clerk can provide information regarding availability on a particular date and, if appropriate, immediately enter your brief into the diary. This can save you an enormous amount of time and frustration and can help minimise "doubling up" problems that sometimes occur.
While many large firms have their own "preferred List of Barristers", there may be other Barristers who may also be suitable. A Clerk can provide you with this information.
Wherever possible, a Clerk will negotiate the Barrister’s fees before the brief is delivered. Ensuring the brief comes with the fee already marked helps avoid misunderstandings at a later stage.
The Clerk’s Office is also the Barristers’ Office processing phone calls, faxes and mail for the Barristers, handling incoming and outgoing briefs and the transfer of briefs from one Barrister to another when required. In addition, processing all the Barristers’ accounts, providing banking and arranging regular print-outs of outstanding fees to Solicitors.