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Helping you find a career as a Barrister

The job of a barrister is to offer legal advice and court representation to those requiring it. Although solicitors are the first port of call for most members of the public or businesses, barristers are able to offer more specialist help should their case go to court.

Most barristers are not employed by a company or organisation (there are some positions working for the government in the Government Legal Service and Crown Prosecution Service), but are instead self-employed, working alongside other barristers from a set of Chambers. This means that many barristers are reliant upon their skills at attracting new clients to secure their work.


What does a Barrister do?
Barristers will typically be called upon once a case or issue has gone into litigation, often requiring the matter to be resolved in court. Their role is to advise both the end clients and their solicitors on the relative strengths of their legal arguments, as well as to prepare the arguments for court and/or arbitration. This involves considerable research and expertise in a specific area of the law, as well as fantastic logical and lateral thinking.

Barristers will also represent the arguments in court on behalf of the client - this can involve cross-examining witnesses, proposing clever arguments based on the available evidence, and defending their clients’ interests to the best of their abilities. The very best barristers are able to do this with the flair and panache of a professional showman (although the everyday working experience for a barrister is not quite as full of ‘gotcha’ moments as the TV show Silk might have you believe!)

Day-to-day activities might include:

  • Advising both clients and solicitors on legal matters

  • Researching previous cases

  • Drawing up legal documents

  • Communicating with other professionals

  • Representing clients in court

  • Examining and cross-examining witnesses

  • Analysing evidence and creating a defence

  • Negotiating settlements

What skills and interests should an Barrister have?
It goes without saying that a barrister has to be passionate about the law. They will need to be able to read, understand and remember a huge amount of information relating to a particular case, as well as general points of law. Crafting and preparing watertight arguments (and spotting the flaws in others’ arguments!) will also be a key skill, as will public speaking in a formal setting and the ability to think on their feet. A barrister will need to be good with people, able to build relationships with potential clients as well as winning their trust through the utmost discretion and tact.
What hours does a Barrister typically do?
Barristers typically have long working days and extremely heavy workloads, with overtime common near courtroom and client deadlines.
What environment is a Barrister based in?
In barristers’ chambers.
How much does a Barrister travel?
Although it is relatively uncommon to travel overseas, most barristers will have some travel involved in their typical day.
How much does a Barrister get paid?
During your pupillage you will earn a minimum of £12,000 a year, although this can be significantly more depending on the chamber you are working in.

Once qualified, barristers can earn anything between £25,000 and £300,000.

Those with over ten years experience and a strong personal reputation can expect to earn in excess of this, with some private barristers earning around £1,000,000 a year.
Perks & benefits
As barristers are self-employed, they are able to set their own working hours (although in the main barristers tend to work long hours).

If you are able to establish yourself as a high-profile barrister, there will be opportunities for you to comment on current stories within the media and to build a public profile.

Judges are recruited from the ranks of barristers, so this may be an opportunity for you down the line.
What qualifications does a Barrister need?
To become a barrister you must go through a three stage qualification process.

Firstly, you must have either at least a 2:1 law degree or a 2:1 degree in another subject with an additional graduate diploma in law (GDL).

You must also complete a Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) which will help to prepare you for your time as a barrister.

Finally, to become a barrister you must undertake two six-month pupillages, which are time spent in chambers under the supervision of a qualified, practising barrister.
Useful subjects to study at school & university

  • Law

  • History

  • Classics

  • Politics

  • Economics

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