Bar Council clarifies position on whether law centres are proper lawyers

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Statement on coronavirus funding sparks commotion online

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The Bar Council has clarified that it does think law centres are proper lawyers after a statement from its leader put some noses seriously out of joint.

Amanda Pinto QC had appeared to distinguish between law centres and “legal practitioners” in a statement about government coronavirus funding.

The bar chief was responding to a government announcement of £5.4 million in emergency coronavirus funding for law centres and other not-for-profit legal advice providers.

Pinto was quoted in Legal Futures as saying that while the money was “good news”, it “should not be seen as a substitute for the specialised expertise that the legal professions provide to members of the public”.

She added:

“Without financial measures to support legal practitioners, particularly self-employed barristers — many of whom are not eligible for the government’s existing support measures — there won’t be a profession with this expertise in a few months.”

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Law Centre Twitter wasn’t impressed. Barrister Miranda Grell pointed out that “Law Centres provide ‘specialised expertise’ and they are ‘legal practitioners’. A Law Centre is not permitted to operate without a Senior Supervising Solicitor!”.

Housing solicitor Giles Peaker, who blogs as Nearly Legal, called it “ignorant, tin eared clap trap”.

The Bar Council press team have now slid into people’s replies to say that no offence was meant.

Pinto’s amended statement now refers to “other legal practitioners” and “the specialised expertise that the legal professions as a whole provide”.

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To be fair most employees at law centres aren’t practitioners though they are supervised by one. The distinction is real but though it probably shouldn’t be hammered home in these difficult times. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter.


Where's the tea

Not true! Clueless response.


Legal Officer with a 2:ii

Of course it matters, you fucking idiot. If I said you can go to see a doctor, and it turns out they aren’t qualified at all but a doctor is sat in another room, wouldn’t you be worried?




Would a QC getting divorced go to Fiona Shackleton, or to ‘Fifi Shaker’ the ‘legal adviser’ at the CAB because there’s “no essential difference” between the two and it would be great to save some cash?

Great job of the Bar Council to stop the puffery and stop the public being misled.

Legal advice offices are not and never will be the same as properly trained lawyers.



You’re the idiot

Language of a moron – probably an angry white van driver

1st Class Hons


Legal Officer with a 2:ii

I’m not a van driver shit head. Fuck you.


The Bar Council has met with HMCTS to clarify the correct position, namely, that only those bundles belonging to barristers and solicitors should be removed by them. Barristers and solicitors should not remove bundles which have been filed with the court, as they are not data processors for the court.


Legal Officer with a 2:ii

What people at legal advice centres feel about their own importance and the reality of their lack of professional legal qualifications and training are two different things.



No law degree, but I have spent 20 years doing benefits tribunals at advice centres and screaming at law students. As a disadvantaged member of the working class, I earn £60k on a four day week to run the decrepit office.

How very dare you oppress me for not going to university! Protesting the Poll Tax was so much more fun!

The public doesn’t need clarity from the Bar Council – they need blind optimism and salt-of-the-earth people like me to make the wheels of the justice machine move!


Legal Officer with a 2:ii

You deserve imprisonment mate, end of. What you’re doing is a disgrace.



I’ve had the police called on me by people for my office behaviour, but if the workaholic QC trustees bother to care, I just move on to employment at another pro bono office.

It’s not like there’s enough candidates to need an assessment centre.

How else can someone without a degree earn more than £40k?


Legal Officer with a 2:ii

Piss off


Dontsufferfools Gladly

Lega; Officer with a 2:ii – you sound a complete arsehole – a moronic white van man in fact.

1st Class (& very competent)


Legal Officer with a 2:ii

You would be a bully too if you were always the ‘Legal Officer’ at the pro bono office, never the ‘barrister‘ for the same work


J.A.J.F. Burnett Rae

None of the ill-tempered contributors to this quarrel deserve the respect due to a barrister arguing a hopeless case.

The Bar Council habitually ignores many hard working barristers, especially thosewithout a practising certificate. Most work of such barristers, and of Solicitors’ offices, and of law centres, is actually mainly done by unqualified “lawyers” under qualified and insured supervisors. Most work of practising barristers is actually done by the individual qualified and insured barrister, who unless he himself says otherwise is officially deemed to be competent in every arcane field of law, with only rare exceptions such as immigration work.

Of course these generalities are just that, generalities with special exceptions. Nowadays there are some decidedly iffy barristers who typically “practise” upon their unwitting clients within closed communities: hence the exception for immigration work!

However it is VERY annoying for respectable fully qualified barristers who work outside the Inns of Court to be disrespected by the Bar Council, which habitually works with scant regard for provincial practising barristers, let alone the unregistered (including the employed, law professors, the retired, corporate general counsel, pro bono lawyers, judges, director/trustees, pupils in their first six, and various other barristers). My village Rector and I are both in that category!


Alexander Hamilton

“is VERY annoying for respectable fully qualified barristers who work outside the Inns of Court to be disrespected by the Bar Council”

You should write to them demanding satisfaction.

How are your duelling skills in the provinces?



Employed Barristers are registered… your argument lacks facts, if not passion.


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