The legal service launched in May by logistics giant Stobart is set to produce a seven-figure revenue in its first year, according to legal director Trevor Howarth, pictured.
Stobart gained one of the first Bar Council licenses to instruct a barrister directly under Direct Professional Access legislation. Howarth initially set up a barrister panel for Stobart's own legal advice after he joined in 2008 and saw legal costs cut in half on some jobs by removing much of the work done by solicitors. Stobart Barristers, based in Manchester, was created to roll the service out to third parties in commercial and personal legal fields. The company says it has 70% of the UK's barristers available on its books.
Howarth notes: "Direct Professional Access has been around for eight years now but it hasn't been widely adopted because consumers and businesses 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 is selected for their ability to meet our clients' needs."
Stobart declined to put a specific figure on its revenue forecast or to name clients but said turnover was running at four times its original business plan.
Callers to Stobart Barristers are offered three levels of fixed cost depending on the seniority of the barrister chosen.
Stobart employs its own paralegals to do administration and preparation work at a fixed cost of £50 an hour, compared, it says, to solicitors' fees of between £150 and £350 an hour for the same service. A Stobart barrister reviews the case and then agrees a cost upfront.
Howarth added: "The legal services industry continues to undergo significant changes that are allowing new entrants to the market with innovative business models to provide faster and less expensive services than those offered under traditional models."