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Stephen Ward

Stephen Ward is the founder and managing director of Clerksroom Chambers, Clerksroom Mediators and Clerksroom Direct. Email ward@clerksroom.com. Twitter @clerksroom.

Billy Bot Infographic

Billy Bot is the world’s first robotic junior clerk for a barristers’ chambers.

The concept of Billy Bot came out of the huge growth in public access work that now comes directly to barristers. Members of the public can now contact chambers directly to discuss their potential cases with the clerks in chambers. This presents a new difficulty for barristers’ clerks as they need to spend much more time dealing with enquiries from the general public than they do with solicitors or other lawyers (who have a professional understanding of the legal process and requirements) when they contact us to obtain advice or book a barrister for a hearing.

Clerksroom Chambers was created 15 years ago out of a passionate belief that it was time for change at the Bar. It took years for the model to be accepted by both the Bar and the legal industry (particularly the Bar) as we are a limited company led by a Managing Director owner and one other stakeholder and operate nationally as a virtual chambers supported by a full clerking team in Taunton.

We have devised new ways in which a chambers can use the internet and digital technology for marketing, attracting new talent and educating the sector and have now grown to support 80+ barristers, have significant contractual arrangements with the leading legal brands across the UK and are seen as a valuable and professional alternative to the traditional chambers structure. It hasn’t always been easy but our clients and the wider market now fully understand that we have modelled our advocacy business to suit their financial, legal and growth needs.

There is very little that is actually “virtual” about the way Clerksroom is operating. You could say it’s a “procurement company”, or a service company, or a business. Our barristers are self employed, sole practitioners working from 55 home based offices around the UK and increasingly, globally. We now have members based in Ireland, Spain, India and New Zealand as well as the UK. Our members are spread nationally from Cornwall to North Yorkshire, East Sussex to Lancashire.