Direct Professional Access

Strategic, expert and independent legal counsel is vital in ensuring that your organisation or company can best respond to complex demands of today.

Since May 1990, entities have been granted direct professional access to members of the Bar of Ireland in non-contentious matters.

Being an Approved Body means that entities can access a barrister directly for legal assistance in non-contentious matters – legal opinions – without having to go through an instructing solicitor.  Services accessed under the scheme do not include litigation services (e.g. court proceedings).

Examples of Direct Professional Access Services

  • Drafting Policies & Guidances
  • Legal Opinion
  • Corporate Governance Advices
  • Legislative Analysis
  • Internal Investigations

Are you eligible to join the scheme?

To join the scheme, your organisation must meet one of the below criteria:

A statutory body, association or foundation

Any other body, association, company, institution or foundation which, in the opinion of the Council of The Bar of Ireland (or its duly designated committee) is suitable for admission to the scheme

A professional or trade body or association which regulates the work activities of its members and/or which provides guidance to them in respect of such activities and/or which represents such members’ interests in public

A holder of Public Office or “Designated Public Official’ as defined in the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015

To get an understanding of whether your entity would benefit from being a member of the scheme, take a look at current members below.

Have questions about the scheme?

If you’d like to discuss any aspects of the Scheme, or are considering joining, contact cormac.oculain@lawlibrary.ie or call 01 817 5116

Application Process

The application process to join the scheme is free and simple, with entities submitting an overview of their corporate governance structures, and a description of activities and likely services required.

In relation to representative, professional & trade bodies or associations, you are asked to satisfy as part of your application that:

  1. Your members provide skilled and specialist services; and
  2. The body has a significant need for a barrister’s services.
  3. The body must also show how their affairs and conduct are regulated, including any supporting documentation or links relating to:
  • their standards
  • how people become members of their body; and
  • how the body handles discipline and unethical or dishonourable conduct.


Entities who wish to be added to the list should send the required information as set out above by email to Cormac O’ Culáin, Director of Communications and Member Services: cormac.oculain@lawlibrary.ie

Access to the scheme is at the discretion of the Public Affairs Committee of The Bar of Ireland, which reviews all applications. The Committee may seek additional information.

Guidelines for Instructing Counsel

To assist you in your interaction with barristers, we set out some useful matters to keep in mind:

How much will a barrister cost?

Fees are always negotiated between the barrister and their client. They will reflect the complexity of the problem, the financial implications of the transaction and the degree of expertise and experience used by the barrister concerned. These can be agreed upfront between the client and the barrister.

All practising barristers must satisfy The Bar of Ireland annually that they have an acceptable level of professional indemnity insurance cover in place.

How do I locate a Barrister to instruct?

Not all barristers are willing to accept DPA assignments. The Bar of Ireland maintains a list of those who have indicated willingness to accept such work, by using our Find a Barrister function, and by filtering by reference to Direct Professional Access.

Guidelines for instructing Counsel

In order to get the most out of your engagement with counsel, officers of approved professional bodies should plan and give thought to their instructions and give them to the barrister in writing. The quality of the advice which the barrister can give is very much dependent on the quality of the instructions.

A barrister must receive adequate instructions, normally setting out in concise booklet form the nature of the issue and the advice needed.

The booklet should be indexed and, as far as possible, contain all of the relevant documents.

The nature of legal advice means that barristers can often give the best advice when they can base it on a detailed consideration of documents. It is often unsatisfactory to present synopses of legal documents in place of the documents themselves. (Please note, you should never send the barrister original documents – send them copies and keep the originals.)

The case information you send to the barrister should include details of:

  1. on whose behalf you are looking for the barrister’s opinion;
  2. the factual background; and
  3. what you want to use the opinion or the advice for.

If you have researched the issue, you should include all information, case law and materials that you think are relevant.

If you need the work done by a deadline, this should be made clear in your written instructions or discussed with the barrister.

Consultations are often useful to make clear the subtleties of the issues before the barrister prepares their opinion.

Once you have paid the barrister fees for the opinion, the property of the opinion belongs to you. However, if you intend to publish the opinion or circulate it widely, you must get permission in advance from the barrister.