Thursday, 25th April 2019


Barristers make up one of the two main representatives of law in the United Kingdom (the other being solicitors). Primarily, they are legal advisors whose specialist role sees them speak in court in front of a judge and, in serious cases, a jury, to either defend or prosecute a client.

For many years barristers were the only members of the law profession who could speak in court, holding the ‘right to audience’. Despite recent regulation changes allowing solicitors to also speak in court, in practice barristers are still very much in command when it comes to this aspect of legal proceedings.

Barristers must assess evidence, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses before discuss with their client. Should a case go to court a barrister must impress the judge with a well-structured, persuasive and just argument and convince the jury with cross examination of witnesses.

A high percentage of cases never go to court. The instruction of a barrister in legal proceedings can be enough to force parties to settle a dispute out of court. The process of going to court and hiring legal aid is an expensive and time-consuming one.

Once practicing, barristers are either self-employed or employed. Self-employed barristers find the majority of their work through solicitors and work like freelancers on a case-by-case basis. Employed barristers usually work within large legal agencies or with the Government.

Barristers are often hired by solicitors. Judging workload versus timetables at court can prove the most taxing task and some self-employed barristers will have an entire team behind them for support. They must be proficient at delegation and management of their own team.

Barristers belong to ‘Chambers’ or ‘Inns’ which are collections of barristers. Chambers’ locations and the barristers belonging are usually done on a geographical basis. Within there will be well practiced advisors who can help their junior colleagues, or 'pupils'. Barristers in chambers can represent their own members individually or collectively. Some barristers must pay an annual fee to remain a member of their Chambers.

Whilst all barristers have their merits and specialities, finding or being allocated to a chambers often depends on where a barrister lives, or where they want to practice. Chambers are notoriously competitive and so emphasis is often placed on who the barristers are within the chambers, opposed to performance records. Therefore, building a good reputation as a barrister is all important.

Becoming a barrister is highly competitive. Even if a candidate passes all of the necessary and extensive examinations there is no guarantee of employment. A great number of barristers go into commerce, change career or become academics that teach Law.