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what is a barrister?


Most individuals think of barristers as individuals in wigs and robes arguing in court. Well they are not entirely wrong, but there is so much more that a barrister does. The job of a barrister is to advocate  and represent their clients. Most will have been instructed by a solicitor, but this is not always the case. 

They will prepare documentation before court, prepare clients for court,  and interpret the law.

In cases against the state you will either be defending if you work for the defence or if you work for the state such as the CPS you will be working for the prosecution. The fate of an individual's future will be in your hands. 

Most barristers will specialise in one area of law such as those below. Most barristers are self employed and work in chambers. 

Practice areas

  • The Chancery Bar

  • The Commercial Bar

  • The Common Law Bar

  • Construction at the Bar

  • The Criminal Bar

  • The Employment Bar

  • The Family Bar

  • Public Law at the Bar

  • Shipping and International Trade at the Bar

how to become a barrister


Complete a qualifying law degree (LLB) which must take you no longer than six years


To become a barrister you must be a member of one of the four inns of court. You can read more about Inns Of Courts here. 


The next stage is the vocational training stage. This used to be called the BPTC but as of September 2020 has been changed to a bar course. Also known as BTC, BVC, BPC.


Undertake work-based learning in the form of a pupillage. A pupillage is split into two. The first six and the second six. Normally these take place at the same chambers. 


Once you have passed pupillage you can then apply for a tenancy at chambers. 

Gaining Experience

The fight to become a barrister is not an easy one. It takes decidation, hard work and passion. You will need to stand out from the crowd and the best way to do this is by gaining experience. 

Mooting is a great way of gaining legal experience. Head over to our mooting page to find out more information on what mooting is and how to get involved. 

Another way of gaining experience is through a mini-pupillage in barrister's chambers. Mini-pupillages are aimed at second and final year students, but any aspiring barrister should aim to complete 3-4 mini-pupillage during their studies. 

Mini-pupillages are the equivalent of a vacation scheme and last between one to five days. Some chambers offer payment for travel and accommodation and some don't. You will need to check with the chambers directly.  Please check for further information and for application deadlines. 

For a list of chambers please visit

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