What you need to know

New work streams - Use ‘be’ to attract new work that would otherwise have been picked up by the duty scheme. That’s because it’s a quicker and easier way to find a locally available criminal lawyer. And we’ll be making sure that people know about it.

Keep your clients - ‘be’ is also a way to help you keep your existing clients. That’s because they can find you (or someone from your firm) fast. The website also provides lots of useful information so that they’ll know to make contact with you.

Increase your profile - If you’re an independent/freelance accredited rep or solicitor, using ‘be’ can increase your profile making you more available and more accessible to everyone. Firms can use you as an agent. There’s just one important point to note - you introduce yourself to their client as being from the firm that’s instructing you - and you maintain the lawyer client relationship on behalf of that firm.

Market and advertise - Members of the public can also gain access to qualified criminal lawyers using ‘be’. Just like Facebook, your ‘be’ profile is entirely under your control. Just remember that any advertising needs to be professionally compliant. If in doubt, go to Chapter 8 of the SRA Handbook using this link http://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/handbook/code/content.page. You can update your profile when you like. You can also create a link from your profile to an external website.

Competency based CPD - Each individual subscriber gets access to, competency based CPD, including the usual updates and proper case reports produced by leading experts and trainers.

Why do we need briefencounter? Because we need to change!

‘be’ provides lawyers with a system of working that enables them to make a proper living in crime, even at today’s legal aid rates. It just means changing the way we do things. It’s a change that produces more work and makes sustainable profits for all crime suppliers, not just the chosen few.

The ‘be’ system recognises that it is not cost effective to attend court or the police station with just one or two cases or clients. Sure, if it’s a special case or client that you want to look after personally, that’s your call. But for most client work, what you need is a simple and effective system of collaboration. It’s just like instructing counsel; except that we instruct each other.

 United we stand

Joining ‘be’ is free. It helps you to create and maintain new professional relationships, possibly with those you might previously have regarded as your competitors. It works through collaboration; not competition.

Why collaborate with more people? Because it makes us stronger. Working in an organised professional network, we can rebuild the increased and sustainable profitability that our businesses need.

Divided we fall

Fewer people accused of crime ask for a lawyer. They often don’t appreciate why they need a lawyer. They can easily be put off from asking for a lawyer. And they don’t really know what a lawyer can do for them. The police tell detainees that requesting a lawyer will extend their detention, emphasising the so-called ‘credit’ for confessing. Courts do the same.

And meanwhile an accused has no simple, encouraging mechanism for quickly getting hold of a lawyer. A lawyer who could potentially already be on site and available. briefencounter enables a person who is suspected of crime or accused of crime to find help quickly, easily and for free.

A crowded market

As work streams have diminished with fewer people being arrested and charged, the marketplace for criminal lawyers has become a battleground for business. You understandably try to protect your business, looking for turnover in the hope that the “big one” will come along. And you hope that if and when it does come along, it won’t be stolen from under your nose. Successive administrations have been quick to take advantage of these anxieties by setting lawyers against each other.

‘be’ changes all of that. Joining ‘be’ makes you part of a professional network that enables you to collaborate with other lawyers and law firms in the country when you want to, where you want you to, choosing the cases that you want to collaborate on. Think of it as a national team if you like. A team that still recognises that individual lawyers and firms have special relationships with their clients. A team of lawyers who are mutually respectful.