At St Pauls we understand that the relationship between barristers and solicitors, and between lawyers and lay clients has changed substantially in recent years and is going to go on changing. We also understand that the independence, integrity and skills for which Barristers have always been valued must be at the forefront of how we work.
We have considered what is required from Barristers’ Chambers. We believe that the qualities that all clients – lay and professional – value in barristers must be the centre of our professional focus. That means:
The client comes first. We are committed to our professional independence and integrity.
Service is important. We are prompt, courteous and reliable and so are our Clerks.
We are a team. We take professional development and support seriously.
We focus on quality. We do not recruit to fill space. We have “home grown” Silks as well as those who have joined us from other Chambers. We encourage our members to sit, because that aids professional development as well as putting something back.
We recognise that cost is important. We are flexible and realistic.
We have thought about what it means to put these beliefs into practice. How do our clients get the best from us?
We believe that barristers benefit from mixed practices and Chambers benefits from the wide range of experience on offer. Not only does that mean we can suit the barrister to the case: it means that all our barristers are able to take a broad view of the law and of advocacy.
We believe in direct access at all levels. It saves money for clients who can use it. It allows flexibility: we can ensure that clients who need solicitors, use solicitors. It ensures good relationships between Chambers and the solicitors with whom we work. Of course, we never take money for referrals.
We believe in nurturing talent. We monitor our pupils and our junior tenants. They are asked to help on much bigger cases than they would ever do in their sole name. We have an open door policy when it comes to seeking views and professional help.
We believe in hard work. We do not tolerate laziness, unpreparedness or short cuts. We police ourselves rigorously. No lawyer can guarantee success, but no case must go by default because the lawyers are not able to give of their best.
We take a broad view of how barristers should be involved in the wider community. Not only is that a decent thing to do in itself, but it helps us understand the world in which our clients operate:
We sit as part time Judges and adjudicators.
We take academic appointments in areas in which we specialise.
We are involved with communal charities where we work and where we live.
We offer work experience and mini-pupillages. Most of our pupils have spent a week with us early on – so have most of our clerks.
We volunteer as governors of schools, playing fields associations and youth movements.
We offer our services to the Bar Pro Bono Unit and the Free Representation Unit.
Finally, we understand that advocacy is about communicating and persuading people. We try not to be pompous, to use pretentious language for the sake of it, or to talk over the heads of our clients. When all is said and done it boils down to this: Our clients come to us with problems: it is our job to provide a solution.