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    Barrister

    If you are wondering how to become a Barrister, below are tips and advice on beginning careers in this challenging court work area of the legal profession and where law jobs for barristers could take you.

    The Job Description
    The role of the barrister is to work with solicitors and to represent the client in court or at tribunals, but there is often no direct contact with the client at all. 80% work on a self-employed basis, working in private practice within the ‘Employed Bar’. Duties include:

    • Delivery of legal arguments to juries, judges and magistrates.

    • Cross examination of defendants and witnesses.

    • Consulting with relevant professionals such as accountants or surveyors.

    • Studying case notes and liaising with solicitors and clients where appropriate.

    • Conducting research of previous similar cases to use as a basis for action.

    • Attending meetings with solicitors and offering advice and opinions.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of a good barrister include:
    • Confidence and excellent verbal presentation skills under pressure.
    • The ability to take absorb and analyse large amounts of information.
    • A strong work ethic, as law is a taxing and highly competitive profession.
    • Accurate and good attention to detail.
    • Articulate – able to explain complex legal matters clearly and concisely.
    • Strong in negotiation and able to argue cases effectively.
    • The ability to remain emotionally detached during sensitive cases.
    • Comfortable in working under pressure.
    • Empathetic and tactful.
    • Discretion in dealing with confidential information.

    How to become a Barrister
    You must complete both academic and vocational stages of training.

    The academic stage can be completed in one of two ways:

    • Gain a degree in law at 2:2 or above.
    • Gain a degree in another subject, followed by either the Common Professional Examination (CPE) or Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PgDL).

    Entry requirements for law degrees vary so check with the course provider. Some universities ask you to pass the National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT) before acceptance to a law degree course.

    Training and Development
    After passing the academic stage, you must pass a vocational stage of to qualify as a barrister, involving the requirments of:
    • Membership of one of the four ‘Inns of Court’.

    • Completion of a 1-year full time (or 2-year part time) Bar Vocational Course (BVC), plus 12 educational qualifying sessions with your Inn. This leads to qualification, known as being ‘Called to Bar’.

    • 12 months of ‘Pupillage’ – practical training with an experienced barrister, which usually involves 6 months shadowing and 6 months of supervised practice. Formal training courses in advocacy and advice to counsel are also required and from 2008, you will not be called to the bar without full completion of pupillage.

    • A forensic accountancy course, either during pupillage or within the first 3 years of practice.

    Throughout your career, you must also receive continuing professional development (CPD) and newly qualified barristers require 42 hours of CPD within the first 3 years of practice.

    The Pay
    Salaries can vary greatly, but as a rough guide:
    Trainees (during pupillage) £10k to £40k per annum.
    Barristers employed by the CPS: £22,000 to £55,000 per annum.
    Self-employed barristers: £20k to £260k per annum.

    Sources and useful resources:
    General Council of the Bar – www.barcouncil.org.uk
    www.lawsociety.org.uk/documents/downloads/becomingcareerpaths.pdf
    www.learndirect-advice.co.uk/helpwithyourcareer/jobprofiles/profiles/profile625/

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