CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JAN. 31, 2014
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How to Become a Barrister

People may always say nasty things about lawyers, but they are a necessary evil. If you are unlucky enough to find yourself in front of a judge or jury and in need of legal representation in court, then you will need a Barrister. So if you fancy making speeches, arguing with judges and making a lot of money in the process, this may well be your calling.

What Do Barristers Do?

While everyone has heard of solicitors or attorneys as they are known in the U.S., not everyone has heard of Barristers. Strangely enough Barristers are actually the legal professionals who represent clients in court. They are hired by a client’s solicitor to be their advocate in the court room; to argue your case and make sure that you win. It can be an extremely varied role depending on which area on law they specialise in, which can include:

  • Criminal Law
  • Chancery law
  • Commercial Law
  • Entertainment Law
  • Sports Law
  • Common Law

Barristers are also hired by the government to prosecute cases, so what you have in the courtroom is a battle between two different Barristers. Depending on what type of case a Barrister is taking typical work activities can include:

  • Providing expert legal advice.
  • Researching legal precedents, preparing cases and writing legal documents.
  • Liaising with other legal professionals to improve their knowledge and chance of winning cases.
  • Representing clients and defending them in court.
  • Cross examining witnesses in court, studying evidence and drawing conclusions.
  • Negotiating out of court settlements between clients and other parties.
  • Prosecuting cases for the government while ensuring that all legal guidelines are adhered to.

Salary

It is pretty much universal knowledge that lawyers of any kind make very good money. So it should come as no surprise that in exchange for lengthy and expensive study, Barristers earn a lot of money. In fact, it is one of the most highly paid professions in the world.

Pupillage – (Training)

£12,000 - £65,000

Qualified

£25,000 - £300,000

Crown Prosecution Services or Government Legal Services

£30,000 -£90,000

Experienced – 10 years or more

£300,000 - £1,000,000 or higher

Your salary is ultimately dependent on various factors, such as geographical location, experience, and talent. As most Barristers are self-employed, it is also dependent on how much work you get and the money you pay to maintain your business.

What Qualifications are Needed

Becoming a Barrister is not an easy task, and there are many steps to pass in order to become a qualified Barrister. The most basic qualification is a good law degree at least a 2:1 or above. However, you can have a degree in any field and take a law conversion course, which lasts one year.

  • Bachelors of Law (3 or 4 years)
  • GDL law conversion course (1 year full time)
  • Bar Professional Training Course (1 year full time)
  • Pupillage (1 year training,  with a qualified barrister split into two six moth parts)
  • First six watching and assisting and Second six performing work yourself.
  • You are admitted to the Bar upon completion of the first six.

Competition is extremely high, so it is not always possible to obtain pupillage on your first attempt. Because of this, the Bar council gives you five years from completing the BPTC to obtain your pupillage.  Career Development

Once qualified as a Barrister, you have many career opportunities open to you. For many Barristers the final goal is to ‘take silk’ and become a QC or Queens Council. This involves joining the judiciary, as an assistant recorder, with the eventual aim of becoming a judge. Becoming a judge is pinnacle of many Barristers legal career. However, others choose to become experts in their chosen area such as common law and build a successful career. Whatever path you choose you have to undertake 12 hours of continuing professional development every year, to ensure that you are up to date with recent changes to legislation.

There is no denying that it is a long, expensive and tough career path to follow. But the financial rewards can be quite amazing. So if you love a good debate, don’t mind long hours of study and reckon you can afford it, then why not try your luck as a Barrister. It might actually make you a millionaire.

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