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10 Tips for Achieving Best Practice in Briefing Barristers

In this article, we share ten tips for achieving best practice when briefing a barrister, based on our experience at eBrief Ready, an electronic briefing platform used by over 30,000 lawyers and paralegals at law firms across the region and over 50% of Australian barristers.

These tips will help you provide clear and concise instructions, use electronic briefing platforms to securely share material, follow industry-standard file structure and formatting, highlight key issues, foster open communication, and make it easier for all parties to access and reference documents in court.

1. Provide clear and concise instructions

While it might seem obvious, before briefing a barrister, make sure you have a thorough understanding of the matter and the client’s objectives. This will ensure you can provide clear and concise instructions and identify the most important documents for the barrister to review.

2. Brief the barrister as soon as you have the key documents

Once you have the most important documents, brief the barrister so they can begin considering the matter. By briefing them early, they may be able to give important preliminary advice which would not have been possible if they did not see the documents in a timely manner. Don’t wait until you have assembled all the relevant material into a comprehensive brief.

3. Use electronic briefing platforms to securely share material in real time

Electronic briefing platforms (like eBrief Ready) provide a central, secure, easy-to-use platform for sharing and organising all relevant material, including documents, emails, images, audio files and video footage. This eliminates the need for physical copies or cumbersome PDF bundles and the risk associated with sharing documents via email or USB. Documents can be added directly from FilePro, thanks to the eBrief Ready FilePro integration.

4. Progressively share material as it becomes available

Progressively adding to a central electronic briefing platform eliminates the need for constant emails or updating of the pdf bundle when new material comes to hand. Resist the temptation to share every piece of correspondence just because it is easy. Remember that barristers will charge your client for sifting through irrelevant documents, so make sure you give them only the relevant documents for them to review.

5. Follow an industry-standard file structure for organising documents

Make sure the folder structure you use for a matter is clear and relevant for that matter. This will make it easier for the barrister to quickly find the relevant documents and for all parties to work across multiple matters.

6. Use consistent industry standard formatting

Consistent formatting throughout the brief, including consistent page numberings, an index with hyperlinks to navigate the documents and bookmarks, makes it easier for the barrister to navigate and find relevant information. eBrief Ready automates this process for you and can instantly produce consistently formatted, industry standard PDF Courtbooks if required.

7. Highlight key issues

Highlight key issues and important sections in the brief. Take advantage of the powerful annotations and tagging functionality in eBrief Ready to help the barrister identify the critical aspects of the matter and focus their attention accordingly. This can also be used to create chronologies of events.

8. Foster open communication

Foster open communication with the barrister and other parties involved in the matter throughout the briefing process. Encourage them to ask questions and comment and provide feedback on the material. eBrief Ready provides a central platform for all parties involved in the matter to collaborate, working from one single source of truth. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.

9. Make it easy for your barrister to work with the brief

PDF bundles (particularly those created for large matters) are notoriously difficult for barristers to work with and many resort to printing them out to review. Using a common, secure platform to share documents eliminates this issue (and helps save the environment!).

Ensure all material is easily searchable so that barristers can search across the brief. All material uploaded to eBrief Ready goes through an OCR process when added to the platform.

Using an electronic briefing platform also ensures barristers can also securely work on the documents from anywhere at any time (provided they have an internet connection) and use the platform as a library of cases.

10. Make it easier for all parties to access and reference documents in Court

Rather than preparing a PDF Court book, it is becoming more common for all parties involved in the matter to use the electronic briefing platform to quickly find, access and reference documents in Court.

By following these 10 tips, you can keep up to date with best practice in briefing barristers and help ensure the best possible outcome for your client.

About the Author

Stephen Foley is passionate about creating a smarter and more sustainable legal industry with improved access to justice. After 30 years of working around problems that solicitors and barristers face every day, he created the next generation of electronic briefing – eBrief Ready.

The eBrief Ready platform provides a central and secure repository to share documents related to a legal matter with all invited parties, including the solicitor, barrister, and judge. Integrated with FilePro, eBrief Ready makes it easy to upload, review, and annotate documents, as well as create Courtbooks and briefs in a consistent format that adheres to industry standards. eBrief Ready embodies Stephen’s vision for the industry-wide adoption of a common briefing platform to improve collaboration and productivity for solicitors, barristers and the courts.

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