Pursuing a career as a barrister can be rewarding especially if you understand the role and responsibilities of a barrister. We’ve compiled six things you didn’t know about barristers’ jobs to help make this career path a little easier to understand and give you a better idea of the jobs you can choose from when following a career in law.
1. Belonging to One of the Inns of Court
To become a barrister in the UK, you must already be a part of or join one of the four inns of court based in London. These are Grey’s Inn, Lincoln Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple. These are historical associations that were responsible for legal education and they provide both a supervisory and disciplinary support system which is a vital aspect of the role of a barrister.
These professional associations provide support for barristers and students studying for the Bar to become barrister, often providing financial aid to those who need it. They also provide a number of events to help increase an understanding of the responsibilities of a barrister known as InnSight events. This can involve talks from lawyers and judges about the process towards graduation and what their careers entail.
2. Barristers Have Different Employment Salaries
Some barristers are self-employed and others are employed by a firm. Those who are self-employed will find that their income will not include the benefits of a company salary such as pension, holiday pay and medical pay. The effect this has on a barrister will depend on what kind of law they have chosen to work in.
With the various different specialisms within law, you are bound to find something that suits you with a competitive and rewarding salary. For example, civil law barristers working in areas such as tax law will earn salaries as high as £55,000 per year for an entry level position, allowing new employees to reap several work benefits and feel comfortable in their chosen career path.
3. Days Spent in Court
When it comes to considering how to become a barrister, many believe a barrister’s job description includes a lot of work inside courtrooms. This will depend entirely on each individual case and also the type of law you’re specialising in.
Family law barristers may only go to court a handful of times over the course of their career but other types of barristers in the civil or criminal fields may find they have to spend more time in court. This can include a whole day’s worth of sessions, evenings and even weekends, adding significantly to the responsibilities of a barrister and testing the graduate’s commitment and dedication to their new role..
4. Barristers Are Rarely Hired by Clients
Barristers often get their work through consultation with a solicitor hired by the client. The role of a barrister is simply to provide a number of services such as legal advice and representing clients in court.
A barrister’s specialism is in courtroom advocacy which is essentially the written or oral means by which a barrister presents a case to court. The responsibilities of a barrister in court involves a number of skills ranging from case analysis to cross-examination and skeleton arguments. Advocacy skills are at their core a performance, one that barristers must hone to be as successful as possible.
5. Wearing A Barrister’s Outfit
The typical barrister outfit is described as ‘business attire’ and is often an essential part of going to court, helping you to look more professional. There are different dress requirements when it comes to wearing a barrister outfit so it’s important to make sure you are always dressed properly and appropriately.
While typically a barrister outfit consists of smart formal dress such as a crisp white shirt and a black blazer, sometimes barristers will have to wear more specialised clothes. For example, when you are called to the bar, Gray’s Inn requires male callees to wear a white-winged collared shirt or a court shirt while female callees will wear their barrister gown over a white court shirt or a white collarette paired with a white top.
You may also find yourself wearing the classic gown and barrister wig in court to maintain a formal professionalism and symbolise the power and history of the law.
6. Obtaining Pupillage
Pupillage is an important step on your road to becoming a barrister and even more importantly it’s the final step before you are properly qualified. It involves applying for an apprenticeship to be a part of the Bar and is completed in chambers.
All you have to do is visit the Pupillage Gateway through January and the beginning of February where you can submit up to twenty applications to various chambers. You can also directly apply to chambers that are not a part of the Pupillage Gateway scheme. Just don’t forget to register your pupillage with the Bar Standards Board and your chosen Inn of Court.
Becoming a barrister is a long and daunting process that takes you through a number of intensive steps that teach you everything about the responsibilities of a barrister and the role you will undertake. Finally becoming a qualified and independent barrister is the reward for all your hard work and while the role of a barrister involves a lot of training, once you’ve settled into your chosen specialism, you’ll only have a long and rewarding career ahead of you.