When you need a barrister to do work for you, there are two ways that you can instruct them:

  • If you have a solicitor who is also working on your legal problem, they will instruct a barrister for you.
  • If you do not have a solicitor working for you, you can go directly to a barrister yourself if they are a “Public Access” barrister.

See Choosing and finding a barrister for more information on how you can find a Public Access barrister. There is more information below on how to instruct a Public Access barrister.

Public Access barristers

“Public Access” is the term used to describe members of the public going directly to a barrister, rather than through a solicitor. Not all barristers are allowed to deal with members of the public directly as they have to complete special training first. You can find a register of public access barristers online and you can check whether an individual barrister is registered to do public access work on our Barristers’ Register.

If you are using a Public Access barrister you may need to do some things yourself, including conducting litigation. “Conducting litigation” includes filing documents at court and serving documents on others. "Serving documents" on another person means a formal handing over of those documents to them.

Before you appoint a Public Access barrister, make sure he or she explains what they can do and what you would need to do for yourself.

If you hire a barrister using the Public Access scheme, you will not be able to apply for legal aid. A Public Access barrister should help you make an informed decision about whether to apply for legal aid using a solicitor, or proceed with Public Access. The section on Barristers’ and their fees gives more information on legal aid.

For more on how to instruct a Public Access barrister, please see our Public Access guidance document.

Instructing barristers on immigration and asylum legal issues

We have published further guidance to help you if you have an immigration and asylum legal issue.

This guidance is available in English and in the following languages:

Finally, we have specific guidance on instructing an immigration barrister if you are an OISC Advisor or another professional client of the barrister.