An Insider’s Story - Barrister, criminal law

What is your job?

Barrister specialising in criminal law.

How did you get into it?

Entry is by applying to chambers for a pupilage, which you can do before, during or after sitting the Bar exams.

What do you enjoy about it?

Being an advocate is quite addictive as many criminal barristers will tell you. It is a combination of theatre, having to think on your feet and being able to judge the mood/temperature  of the court, I.e. both that of the jury and the Judge. As you are self employed you have a great deal of independence. It is a very friendly profession with a great deal of opportunity for friendship and socialising if you want it; those who see it as a 9-5 job and operate in this way are missing the point.

What do you wish you had known before you entered your industry?

It involves putting in a lot of hours if you are going to be successful. Remuneration now is relatively poor as the vast majority of the work is publicly funded. The competition for work is substantial as increasingly work is done in house by solicitor advocates. A great deal has to be done so as to cultivate contacts who will send you work. It is not a job that anyone should embark on unless they are completely committed and see it as a vocation.

Top tips for someone wanting to start out in your sector

Getting into other areas of law which are not publicly funded will be much more remunerative, albeit less advocacy is likely to be involved. Becoming a solicitor affords much greater job and financial security; and you can always transfer to the Bar later once you have an amount of experience under your belt.

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