careers

Barrister

What does a Barrister do?

So, what is a barrister? And what does a barrister do? In the UK, the role of barristers is to be specialists in court advocacy and independent sources of legal advice to their clients. UK barristers are most likely to be self-employed and working in chambers.

However, you may find yourself working in government departments or agencies such as the Crown Prosecution Service or the Government Legal Profession. Employed barristers also work in private organisations such as in-house legal departments of charities and companies.

Barristers are usually hired by solicitors to represent a case in court and only become involved when appearing before a court is needed. A barrister pleads the case on behalf of the client and the client's solicitor.

What are the different barristers' practice areas?

As a barrister, the work you do will depend on a range of factors, including the area of practice - out of 24 different practice areas of law - you want to dedidate yourself to.

However, your main role will always be to solve problems and resolve disputes.
If you want a career in law, but don’t want to be a barrister, you may want to consider becoming a solicitor or paralegal.

What qualifications do you need to be a barrister?

To become a barrister, you need one of these qualifying law degrees...

  • The LLB Law is equivalent to a BA or BSc and is a Qualifying Law Degree. It’s the perfect first step towards becoming a barrister
  • The LLB Law Online is equivalent to a BA or BSc and is a Qualifying Law degre
  • The Accelerated LLB is a two year Qualifying Law Degree, rather than the three year degree. It covers the same material but faster
  • The MA Law degree is specially designed for non-law graduates who want to gain a Master of Arts qualification in law
  • The MA Law Online is a postgraduate Master of Arts specifically designed for non-law graduates who want to gain a legal qualification at Master’s level

... followed by a GDL and an LPC

  • The Graduate Diploma in Law is a specially designed conversion course for non-law graduates to move into legal education
  • The Graduate Diploma in Law Online is a specially designed conversion course for non-law graduates to move into legal education
  • The Bar Practice Course is the qualifying postgraduate course for those aspiring to become a barrister in the UK

What skills does a barrister need?

The barrister job description can involve a wide range of skills. The role of a barrister can include the following:

  • The ability to communicate with a wide range of people
  • Determination, stamina, self-motivation and self-discipline
  • Excellent communications and interpersonal skills, alongside the ability to express arguments and ideas clearly
  • An analytical mind and a logical approach
  • Strong academic ability
  • Commercial and legal awareness
  • Advocacy skills – the ability to be an advocate for someone else and act in their best interests
  • Attention to detail and strong research skills
  • Excellent time, project and people management skills
  • The ability to remain calm under pressure and a flexible approach to working when situations change
  • Problem solving skills
  • A responsible attitude and integrity.

What's the difference between a barrister and a solicitor?

In a nutshell, barristers usually practise as advocates representing their clients in court. On the other hand, solicitors and lawyers tend to do the majority of their legal work in a law firm or in the office.

Of course, there are always exceptions to this. For example, the defining features of both barrister and solicitor have become foggy in modern times and both roles can often overlap.

Qualified solicitors can represent clients in court if they are granted ‘rights of audience’, which means that solicitors can nowadays do many of the tasks of a barrister up to a point, although barristers are able to work in a much higher level of court than solicitors.

How to become a barrister step by step?

How long does it take to become a barrister? and What are the different phases of the studies? To complete the study stage of your journey to becoming a barrister, you can take the following law career path:

• Gain either an approved law degree – known as a qualifying law degree – at class 2:2 or above or a degree at 2:2 or above in any other subject, followed by a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), also available as a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) Online
• Then you will need to complete the Bar Practice Course (BPC), previously the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC)
• Complete a vocational period within a work-based setting
• Obtained and complete your apprenticeship,the pupillage.
• Once graduated, and therefore qualified with Right of Audience in court, you will be called to the bar.

What are the day to day responsibilites of a barrister?

A barrister’s day-to-day responsibilities can be varied and changes from case to case. Daily tasks can include giving legal advice to solicitors and clients, translating client’s issues into legal terms and representing them, researching cases, writing legal documents, general preparing of cases, liaising with other legal professionals, appearing in court, cross-examining witnesses, reviewing evidence and negotiating settlements or sentences for the client.

How much do barristers earn a year?

You may ask yourself how much a barrister earns in a year, it is a legitimate question.

The hard work and long hours reflect the wage and salary for a barrister. An average barrister salary in London is anything from £50,000 to £200,000 based on five years’ experience, but as there are many areas of law, this can vary. For those with over ten years' experience, earnings can range from £65,000 to £1,000,000. Those based in London and bigger cities will often earn more too. The potential for earning growth is huge if you choose a career as a barrister.

Find Pupillages, Legal job offers and vacation schemes:

Whether it is for common law pupillages, family or criminal pupillages, law job vacancies or law vacation schemes, you will find in these websites the relevant answers to your questions.

  • LawCareers.Net is a comprehensive, one-stop online resource created for future lawyers and those who recruit them.
  • Pupillage Gateway is a recruitment portal designed for Authorised and Education Training Organisations (AETOs).
  • Target Jobs provide Graduate jobs and schemes, internships and placements, great advice to help you get hired and start your career.
  • Prospects provide a market-leading portfolio of graduate career and postgraduate study recruitment options, advice about work experience, internship opportunities and graduate careers

Employability

Find out how we can support you to get the best start possible to your career.

Discover more

Student Employability Programme

Want a successful career in law? Go through our step-by-step practical activities and read our advice tailored to legal careers.

Discover more