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Website reviews

14 April 08

More websites from the relaunched Faculty of Advocates stables

by Ian Nisbet

Instruct Counsel
www.instructcounsel.com

Instruct Counsel is probably the most impressive of all the stable websites at the moment. I found this all the more remarkable when I discovered that the stable (according to the Faculty website) has a grand total of one advocate! Instruct Counsel’s setup does, however, allow them to source advocates from other stables too.

The site itself is slick and modern, which fits the image the stable is trying to project. On visiting, the front page had a fun quiz for me to answer (although it appeared only nine others had also done so). However, it is the functionality of the website which impressed most. Although I dare say most stables would now accept instructions by email, at Instruct Counsel it is the preferred method of instruction, and the site directs the solicitor to “Instruct Now” through a series of interactive forms which allow detailed instructions and attachments to be sent. This, combined with a guaranteed turnaround on all written work of five working days, makes quite an impression.

As one might expect for a “one horse stable”, Instruct Counsel are also a “one trick pony”, specialising almost exclusively in personal injury cases. However, for those solicitors practising in that field, this website is a must.

Murray Stable
www.murraystable.com

If the above site was my favourite, this one runs it a very close second. The Murray Stable’s website has a much more traditional look and feel to it, but it is (if anything) built to even more precise technical standards.

In fact, much of the content of the site is fairly standard: information about each of the advocates, how to instruct an advocate, practice areas covered, etc etc. However, it is much better organised than in other stables’ sites.

For example, from the front page, one can select a practice area from a scrollable pull-down menu. On selecting a practice area and choosing from a list of advocates, the advocate’s profile also includes contact details, links to the advocate’s other practice areas, and a list of articles written by the counsel in question.

Which brings me to the next stand-out feature of the Murray Stable: the extensive library of articles written by member advocates on various topics of law. These often take the form of articles for academic journals or conference speeches, which are reproduced in full for the interested reader. Furthermore, in an act of remarkable generosity, these articles are released under the terms of a Creative Commons (www.creativecommons.org) licence – meaning that you are free to reuse the articles for non-commercial purposes, provided you acknowledge the source. As an aside, the Scots law version of the Creative Commons licence was developed by Murray Stable member, Jonathan Mitchell QC (www.jonathanmitchell.info).

Oracle Chambers
www.oraclechambers.com

Oracle Chambers was, I believe, one of the earliest of the new breed of advocates’ stables – but it is still very small, with only two members, one junior and one senior. The website is not particularly good, unfortunately. If your “news” section was last updated in January 2007, then people will assume that there is nothing much to report. Similarly, if your articles and case studies sections have neither articles nor case studies, that does not create a good impression and will tend to annoy your potential customers. Finally, why under a link to the Scottish Parliament does the site simply state “sss”? Perhaps a pantomime style indication that Oracle Chambers are not fans of devolution?

Terra Firma Chambers
www.terrafirmachambers.com

The most recently formed stable has a small and basic website, but one which contains as much information as you are likely to need in the first instance, albeit presented in a fairly uninspiring way. In the plus column, the news section was updated only about a month ago.

Westwater Advocates
www.westwateradvocates.com

Another fairly basic website, though more attractively presented than Terra Firma’s, with good use of photographs in particular. The stated aim is that “you find our website useful and easy to navigate”. To be fair, it does exactly that and does it well. Job done.

If you are (or know of) an individual advocate with their own website you’d like to see reviewed, please contact me on iain@absolvitor.com .