We are very glad that you are seriously thinking of pursuing a career at the Bar. However, you must think carefully about whether you have the potential to make a successful career as a barrister. A career at the Bar is very demanding, requiring high standards.
The Bar can offer an extremely rewarding career if you:
Once you have satisfied yourself you have these qualities, and the potential to develop your knowledge and skills further, you should also consider some of the ‘facts and figures’ concerning a career at the Bar before you commit yourself.
In brief, approximately 1800 students take the Bar Course every year and, typically, the number of pupillages offered is about 550 each year. Some students who complete the Bar Course return overseas or turn to other professions. However, students are allowed to seek pupillage for up to 5 years after completing the Bar Course, so the competition for pupillages is extremely intense. Over 3,000 individuals may be applying for pupillage in any particular year, and some Chambers have over a hundred applicants for each pupillage placement, and at present there are only a limited number of pupillages at the Employed Bar*.
You should also realise that, following pupillage, obtaining a tenancy in Chambers or a suitable position at the Employed Bar can also be very challenging. Each year there are normally fewer tenancies available than pupillages, and Chambers do not always offer tenancy to their own pupils.
Do, therefore, check out the detailed information on the websites listed below. Remember that you also need to meet the formal entry requirements before you start the course – a second class honours degree in law (or in another subject plus a conversion course), Inn membership, and adequate language skills. The BSB is introducing a Bar aptitude test for those wishing to start the course in September. Further details can be obtained via the Bar Standards Board website
You should find out as much as you can and give the information serious consideration before committing yourself to the study - and financial and other expenditure that this requires.
So, to make a realistic assessment of whether you are suited to a career as a barrister, you should:
If you have faith in yourself, your capabilities and your potential to succeed after hard work and effort, this should not discourage you. For good candidates, from whatever background, financial support (for example from the Inns of Court, or loans) is frequently available, and the final rewards - both in terms of job satisfaction and financial remuneration - can make it a very worthwhile career.
You will find helpful advice on the following websites:
This notice is issued jointly by the four Inns of Court and BPTC Providers, and the BSB and Bar Council.
*Information is available about the number of students who take the Bar Course each year and the availability of pupillages. You are also strongly advised to read the Bar Council booklet ‘It’s Your Call’, which is updated from time to time and which includes additional information about a career at the Bar.
Up-to-date and detailed statistics are on the BSB website.
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