Bragging barristers: Bar Council issues fresh guidance for online etiquette

Just weeks after Michael Wolkind QC was fined over website claims

The Bar Council has issued new advertising and website recommendations for bragging barristers who have a penchant for blowing their own trumpet online.

The four-page guidance warns barristers not to “make false claims on a personal or chambers” website.

Continuing, the fresh advice states “where claims of comparative quality or ability are made, it is better to make statements that can be justified objectively”. Providing a helpful example, the Bar Council paper reads:

‘[Name] has been ranked as a leading junior in [field of work] by [name of directory]’ is acceptable, whereas an assertion without evidence that ‘[Name] is one of the best barristers in the country in [field of work]’ needs very careful consideration as to how it could be supported if challenged, lest it be considered a misleading claim.

The Bar Council stresses that online claims that “bend the truth” about a barrister’s “knowledge, experience or abilities” are “unacceptable”.

The pointers come just weeks after two high profile barristers graced the pages of Legal Cheek over claims they made online.

Michael Wolkind QC — a criminal specialist at 2 Bedford Row — was fined £1,000 by the Bar Standards Board in February for, among other things, describing himself as “the UK’s top criminal barrister.” His colourful website also included one client testimonial that suggested the experienced silk “could get Stevie Wonder a driving licence”.

Just one week later Legal Cheek revealed similar online boasts by 25 Bedford Row’s Jeremy Dein QC, who described himself as “the UK’s best criminal defence barrister” on his website. Dein’s Google listing — which rates him five stars — contains a glowing endorsement from ‘Lee Dein’. Legal Cheek understands this is his wife.

Read the Bar Council’s recommendations in full below:

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