Dever’s List is the oldest List of Barristers at the Victorian Bar, having started operation in 1855. Foley’s and Muir’s (now Meldrum's) Lists began operation very shortly thereafter, with others beginning in the years following. In the last 25 years the number of Clerks has increased from 6 to 13 with the number of Barristers increasing from approximately 450 to 2023 in 2014.
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 is responsible for administering all aspects of a List of Barristers, mostly advising Solicitors regarding appropriate Counsel, availability and fee structures. The office staff also look after the distribution of briefs to Barristers, make appointments, handle phone calls, faxes and mail, manage the accounts and deal with enquiries.
Remuneration for a Barristers’ Clerk is arranged by the List Committee. A Clerk may receive a salary, and commission, or be self-employed. If self-employed, the Clerk would charge Clerks fees based on a percentage of the Barristers' earnings, usually four or five percent.
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.
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