The deregulation of the legal market has thrown up its most unlikely result yet: haulage firm Stobart Group, which grew out of Eddie Stobart lorries, has unveiled Stobart Barristers.
The project, which is being led by Stobart’s legal director Trevor Howarth, will link individuals and businesses directly to a barrister, cutting out the solicitor middleman. The idea for it came about after the Stobart legal team began working directly with barristers in 2008 – an arrangement that was made possible by the scrapping in 2004 of the rule requiring barristers to be instructed via a solicitor. The team has been so impressed by the savings it made that it believes it can operate barrister direct instruction as a business in its own right.
Howarth said: “Consumers don’t know where to look or which barrister to pick, leaving many to still having to rely on the advice of their solicitor. But in doing so they are forced to pay significant fees. Our model cuts out waste and opens up access to a national panel of barristers that are selected for their ability to meet our clients’ needs."
He added: “This is a new market for the group and one where we see significant potential to grow by offering the public the chance to benefit from a model we have successfully honed for our own business over the past few years.”
Legal Cheek has so far been unable to confirm rumours that the Stobart Group will offer top-up lorry driving shifts to cash-strapped junior barristers instructed under its new service.
But judging by Stobart legal director Howarth's blog, in which he argues that the fat needs to be trimmed from an "archaic sector", such innovations may not be far off.