Barristers give specialist legal advice, advising solicitors and representing people in court and at tribunals and public inquiries.

In the UK, ‘lawyer’ is a general term for someone who has a licence to practise law. This includes solicitors,&

Annual Salary

£12,000 to £250,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours


What's it all about?

You'll either be self-employed and work from chambers in private practice, or be employed by one organisation like the Government Legal Service, Crown Prosecution Service, armed forces or a human rights organisation.

You'll spend most of your time preparing for cases and presenting in court. Your work will focus on one particular area, like criminal or family law.

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • having meetings with clients and taking on cases (briefs)
  • researching the law relating to previous similar cases
  • reading witness statements and reports
  • offering advice and providing written legal opinion
  • negotiating settlements out of court
  • preparing legal arguments and getting briefs ready for court
  • cross-examining witnesses and presenting the case to the judge and jury
  • summing up the case

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • working towards this role


You could:

  • do a law degree
  • do a non-law degree followed by the Graduate Diploma in Law

You would then complete a period of professional training which includes:

  • the one-year Bar Professional Training Course
  • a follow-on year of practical training, called a pupillage

To get into some universities you'll need to pass the Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT).

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree


You could start your career by working in a law firm or the law department of an organisation.

With support from your employer, you could complete a qualification like the Level 6 Professional Higher Diploma in Law through the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.

Solicitors can apply to become barristers by approval of the Bar Standards Board and sitting a Bar Transfer Test.

Further information

You could join The Bar Council, for professional development, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.

You can find out more about becoming a barrister from The Bar Council and All About Law.

£12,000 to £250,000

Starter salary: £12,000 to £45,000

Experienced salary: £30,000 to £200,000

Salaries will depend on what type of work you do, who you work for and where you're based. As an employed barrister, you'll generally earn less than you would in private practice where you'll have to pay your own overheads.

The most experienced practitioners working on very high-profile cases can earn considerable sums.

These figures are a guide.


You'll often work more than the standard 40 hour week, as long hours are common. You may travel to courts every day, particularly if you're involved in criminal or family law.

If you're self-employed, you'll share chambers with other barristers. You'll divide your time between chambers and court.

If you're an employed barrister, you'll be office-based with occasional travel to meetings, court or tribunals.

In court, you'll wear a wig and gown. Outside of court, you'll be expected to dress in smart business clothes.

With experience you could find employment with firms supplying legal services in commerce, finance or industry. You could lead a team or move into general management.

You could also apply to become a Queen's Counsel (QC) or a judge.

Pathways to law course at Bristol University

Complete University Guide - routes into law

How to become a barrister from all about law

The Beginner’s Guide to a Career in Law looks at how lawyers recruit, what they look for in candidates, what candidates need to do when, and how they can maximise their chances, both immediately and as time goes by.

The Law Apprenticeships Guide focuses on the different types of law apprenticeship available, the key skills required, and the pros and cons of undertaking an apprenticeship or going to university, with case studies from those who have done it.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
  • knowledge of English language
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • active listening skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to read English
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently
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