Barrister Select and Lawyers Weekly have recently published and distributed material bearing the heading “Are you aware the way to brief Sydney barristers has changed?”
Based on the information that is presently available to the Association, it appears that this material was distributed by email, via a Lawyers Weekly email address (email@example.com), on Friday 8 December 2017. The email was received by a large number of our members and, presumably, also by solicitors, corporate and government legal departments and members of the public generally. The email, which was distributed on Friday, has generated a number of complaints by our members and clerks. The Association is presently unaware whether similar material has been published or distributed via other means.
In the opinion of the Association, the heading is highly misleading to consumers of legal services and has the potential to cause confusion. The words “the way to brief” may well be understood to suggest that the only way to brief Sydney barristers is now through Barrister Select. Plainly, that is not the case. Such an erroneous suggestion made to solicitors, corporate and government legal departments, members of the public is potentially highly damaging to barristers and chambers who are have not agreed to have any involvement with Barrister Select. The publication therefore presents a false picture of the briefing options which exist in relation to “Sydney barristers”.
In the circumstances, the Association has yesterday requested that each of Barrister Select and Lawyers Weekly take steps to inter alia publish a correction or retraction of the material that was published on Friday and to make clear that Barrister Select is not the only way of briefing Sydney barristers and in no way limits the ways in which Sydney barristers may be briefed.
Members may be aware that Barrister Select approached at least some chambers and individual barristers to agree to list on the site. Some agreed to do so. Some did not. Members should be aware that the Barrister Select website lists chambers and barristers who have not agreed to participate. This has caused a number of chambers to require Barrister Select to remove their chambers and their members from the site. Chambers and members may wish to conduct their own enquiries in this regard.
Members and clerks will be kept informed of developments.