Hemmant’s List is a first for the Queensland jurisdiction and touts itself as “modern approach to an old game”. The group of sunshine state barristers is coordinated by a single clerk, based on an operational model used by barristers in Victoria.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, list chair Geoffrey Diehm QC (pictured) said only one other clerk-led briefing system has operated in Queensland.
The ‘chambers model’, adopted by Level 27 Chambers two years ago, operates from a fixed address. Mr Diehm explained that unlike Level 27, Hemmant’s List is not constrained by geography and matters are remotely coordinated by its clerk online.
“We have people on our list who are from a variety of different chambers around Brisbane. Geography doesn’t determine membership, as it does in some of those other models,” Mr Diehm said.
The list members represent a range of seniority at the Queensland bar, 27 counsel in total, with different specialties. While the list was established to help connect practitioners with barristers, the model does not prevent solicitors from reaching out to list members directly.
Hemmant’s has curated a broad group of legal experts, with a diverse offering of practice areas and fee range, and allows clients to access them all through one contact, Mr Diehm said.
“From our point of view, this model works because we have a very clear objective in mind of having a list constituted by people of a diverse range of experience, practice areas and diversity in terms of gender. That also includes what their fees might be for doing certain work.”
One of the primary goals of Hemmant’s List is to better facilitate an equitable briefing regime and the way that matters are referred to counsel in Queensland.
Mr Diehm suggested that the decentralised nature of the list model helps to overcome barriers that some meritorious barristers come up against when competing for briefs, adding that the model is a workable means to meet targets such as those set by the Law Council of Australia’s equitable briefing policy.
“Our aim was to untie the list from any physical set of chambers, which much better facilitates our objective of getting a group of people of high quality but of diversity, because chambers are tied together by other considerations that might mean [such diversity] is harder to achieve,” Mr Diehm said.
The latest Australian Bar Association figures show that of Queensland’s 1,098 practising barristers, 241 are women. Collectively, the state’s barristers represent more than 18 per cent of barristers nationwide.
“If half the pool of barristers on [our] list are female, the chance of finding a female barrister for the brief is greatly enhanced. Fifty per cent of the briefs should go to women,” Mr Diehm said.
“We have now, and expect to maintain, a higher proportion of women barristers on our list than is represented in the profession more generally.”
He suggested that the model gives quality female counsel the exposure they deserve.
“The list hopes to principally do two things: one aim is to provide solicitors and clients with the facility by which they can make informed choices about who they wish to brief for a particular matter.
“And then from the barrister’s perspective, it is an important service for providing professional development, where the clerk is able to assist the individual barristers in progressing their careers and developing their practice into the client that they hope to have,” Mr Diehm said.
Fiona McLeod SC, president elect of the Law Council of Australia, officially launched Hemmant’s List last week. The list has been operating since June this year.