This is where a client asks a solicitor, patent or trade mark attorney or other legal professional to brief or consult a barrister on his or her behalf. Before 2004 it was the only way that work could come to the Bar and it is still very important to us.
We work very closely with professional access clients. In addition to doing everything that they would expect of counsel such as providing effective oral and written representation, precise and cogent drafting, clear and comprehensive advice, turning work around quickly and attending conferences at the location that is most convenient for them or their clients, we support them in other ways. If, for instance, a solicitor is unfamiliar with Intellectual Property practice we will hold his or her hand every step of the way. We draft the necessary applications notices, affidavits or witness statements and advise on bundles and timetables.
We also try to make sure that the flow of work is not all one way. Public access changes the way in which we can be instructed, but it does not change the type of work we do. If it is in the best interests of the client to instruct a solicitor, patent or trade mark attorney or other legal professional we have to say so. Often clients ask us to recommend a solicitor or patent attorney and we try to give them a choice of at least three names of professionals from our networks we can trust to do a good job for a fair fee.
Although we nearly always refer intellectual property work to a specialist solicitor or patent and trade mark attorney we will willingly refer company, commercial or other work to a solicitor practising in the relevant field who shares a similar commitment to making high quality services available to individuals and small businesses for a reasonable fee. We also offer CPD training to in intellectual property and technology law to such solicitors so that they can send them more of our public access work.