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Licensed Access enables organisations or individuals that have an identifiable area of expertise or experience to apply to the Bar Standards Board to be licensed to instruct barristers directly. The license holder can instruct any member of the Bar for advice, and in some circumstances representation, on their own behalf or another’s behalf in the specialist area. Around 80% of barristers are self-employed and earnings can vary significantly depending on a range of factors. These include your geographical location, area of practice, experience and reputation, as well as your type of employer (self-employed or employed).

We do this by constantly reviewing the rules for barristers and by taking action against any barristers who are thought to have broken them. The proper administration of justice and the rule of law are essential for everyone. In a civilised society, we expect those in authority to obey the law, the vulnerable to be protected, criminals to be brought to justice, and contracts to be enforced so that businesses can flourish for example. Barristers play an important role in all these things and much more besides.

Origin Of The Profession

This means that solicitors can now perform many of the functions of a barrister up to a certain point, although barristers are able to work in a significantly higher level of court than their solicitor counterparts. Find out the main differences between solicitors and barristers in terms of what they do, what they earn and how they work. You can read more about Pupillage applications and interviews elsewhere on this website.

  • At a robed hearing, barristers wear a horsehair wig, an open black gown, dark suit and a shirt, with strips of white cotton called ‘bands’ or ‘tabs’ worn over a winged collar, instead of a tie.
  • This means they are either “sole practitioners” or they work on a self-employed basis with other barristers in organisations known as “chambers”.
  • Generally, counsel dress in the traditional English manner before superior courts, although this is not usually done for interlocutory applications.
  • The profession of barrister in England and Wales is a separate profession from that of solicitor.

Most chambers operate a system whereby the members contribute to these common expenses by paying a certain percentage of their gross income. Individual barristers keep the fees they earn, beyond what they have to pay towards professional expenses. Once called to the bar, the new barrister has a choice whether or not to pursue a career in practice. As there are far more applicants for “tenancy” in barristers’ “Chambers” than there are places, many barristers are unable to obtain a tenancy and choose to go into commercial or academic work. Those choosing not to practice continue to be recognised as ‘barristers’, although may not provide legal services under this label, and remain subject to some limited regulation by the Bar Standards Board.

Work Experience

All correspondence, inquiries, invoices, and so on, will be addressed to the solicitor, who is primarily responsible for the barrister‘s fees. The next step after this is completing the Bar Professional Training Course. The BPTC is a one year full-time course that prepares you for life at the Bar through a range of core subjects and electives. Around 20% of students secure a pupillage before embarking on the BPTC. It is highly competitive, with only the highest calibre graduates standing any chance of success. Advocacy is a key element of the job as a barrister; therefore you must be comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people on a frequent basis.

New entrants to the employed bar must have completed pupillage in the same way as those in independent practice. The Bar Council produces exhaustive guidance regulating the way in which both groups operate, although in 2006 some of the regulatory authority was passed over to the independent Bar Standards Board. Traditionally, a barrister in court was expected to wear traditional court attire in the form of a long black robe and wig. Although many barristers are still expected to wear a wig, for an increasing number of barristers, including, for example, some civil practitioners, this is no longer necessary.


If you prefer working as part of a team, you may be more suited to becoming a solicitor; while if you prefer to work independently, you may be more suited to becoming a barrister. We are very flexible and can work to a fixed fee or, alternatively, to your budget. All fees are agreed before the work is completed so you always know where you stand.

The question of barristers’ and judges’ clothing in the civil courts was the subject of review, and there is some pressure to adopt a more “modern” style of dress, with European-style gowns worn over lounge suits. Guidance from the Bar Council has resulted in robes being worn for trials and appeals in the County Court more than formerly. Historically, practising at the bar was a more socially prestigious profession than working as a solicitor. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the bar was one of the limited number of professions considered suitable for upper-class men; politics, the Army and Navy, the established clergy, and the civil and diplomatic services being the others. Many leading eighteenth and nineteenth-century politicians were barristers; few were solicitors. In the 20th century, solicitors closed the gap greatly, especially in terms of earnings, and by the early 21st century the social gap was far less important than formerly.

Intending Quebec attorneys must earn a bachelor’s degree in civil law, pass the provincial bar examination, and successfully complete a legal internship to be admitted to practice. Attorneys are regulated by the Quebec Law Society (Barreau du Québec). Most barristers are in self-employed practice, but operate within the framework of a set of Chambers.

Solicitors, on the other hand, have traditionally been able to appear only as advocates in the lower courts (that is, the magistrates’ and county courts) and tribunals. Under section 17 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, solicitors with appropriate advocacy experience are entitled to acquire higher “rights of audience”, enabling them to appear in the superior courts. But, in practice, the number of solicitor-advocates exercising their right to do so remains fairly small, and solicitors often continue to engage a barrister to undertake any required advocacy in court.