Barrister Career Pathway
Barristers are solicitors with additional specialist skills as independent advocates and advisors. Barristers plead cases before civil, criminal and industrial courts and other tribunals. Most barristers receive their clients through referrals from solicitors.
What does a Barrister do?
The barrister presents evidence in a court in front of a judge and/or jury and assists in negotiating settlements and plea bargains. Barristers have specialist skills in advocacy and will often specialise in particular areas.
Roles and Responsibilities:
- Advise solicitors and clients about legal matters, providing written opinions on points of law
- Confer with clients and witnesses in preparation for court proceedings
- Receive written information in the form of briefs and verbal instructions concerning cases from solicitors, other specialist legal professionals, and clients
- Researching Undertaking appearance work
- Outlining facts to the court
- Calling and questioning witnesses
- Making addresses to the court to argue cases for clients
- Preparing paperwork for court and appear in court on behalf of clients, including pleadings, affidavits and other court documents
- Arranging settlement amounts and legal documents at case conclusion.
Where do Barrister's work?
Most barristers work as sole practitioners, making their services available through a system of shared space or chambers. Referrals from a network of solicitors are processed through the chambers. Some companies and corporations retain the on-staff services of barristers to represent their companies in legal and civil matters.
Barristers work throughout Australia, with 38.8% working in Victoria and 29.8% in NSW. 84.5% of barristers work on a full-time basis.
How much does a Barrister earn?
The average annual salary for Barristers in Australia is $97,900. Bonuses may be available in addition to this – the amount received in bonuses depends on a range of factors.
As a barrister gains further competencies and progresses through their career, their earning potential generally increases.
- Entry level: $87,900
- Mid-level salary: $ 101,725
- Senior salary: $102,000
- Bonuses: $343 - $20,542
Barrister Career Outlook at a glance
Median age is: 44 years old
Employment level trends & growth
Barristers are specialist advocates, but many have chosen to practice in a certain area of the law, including but not limited to the following.
- Alternative dispute resolution
- Appellate (civil appeals and criminal appeals)
- Commercial (including building and construction, bankruptcy, intellectual property, professional liability, securities and investments, etc.)
- Common law and personal injury
- Environment and planning
- Equity (property, trusts, wills and probate)
- Family law and guardianship
- Industrial and employment (including work health and safety and discrimination)
- Inquests and inquiries
- International law (including international taxation)
- Public and administrative (including civil and human rights, constitutional law, extradition, immigration, licensing, privacy and freedom of information, etc.)
- Tax and revenue
What education do you need?
To become a barrister, you must first be qualified as a solicitor. This means that you will hold an Australian law degree – i.e. a B.Law or B.Laws (Hons) – and have completed Practical Law Training, before being admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the state or territory in which you practice.
You must next pass your state or territory’s Bar examination to the required standard of 75%. This covers practice and procedure, aspects of evidence, and legal ethics.
You will then need to register for the Bar Practice course, which is a program of lectures, workshops, court practice, and discussion. You are then registered as a ‘Reader’ for a year, which involves practicing with one or more experienced barristers, who act as tutors. Upon completion, a practicing certificate may be awarded.
Many barristers, around 35%, also have a post-graduate qualification.
How long does education take?
- A Bachelor of Law (B.Law) is a 4-year full-time degree.
- A bachelor degree in a non-law subject takes 3 years to complete. Two units in the final year may be taken to achieve a B.Laws (Hons), or you may take an additional 4th year to gain the honours qualification.
- Practical Legal Training takes just under 4 months full time or 8 months part-time to complete. The duration varies depending on the territory or state.
- Bar examinations usually run twice a year in each state or territory.
- The Bar practice course is four weeks long. This may be the first month of the 9-12 months spent as a Reader.
Additional postgraduate qualifications in law may also be taken.
- A post-graduate master’s degree can be obtained online in 16 months part-time.
- A graduate certificate can be obtained in a minimum of 8 months.
Who suits this career?
Barristers require the same skills and attributes as solicitors but are usually required to display excellence in many of these areas.
- Integrity and Responsibility. Barristers should conduct themselves impeccably, with the ability to remain calm under considerable pressure.
- Research skills. Excellent academic abilities and high levels of diligence and detail orientation are vital.
- Critical thinking. Analytical abilities are essential as well as using present logical processes to identify potential weaknesses.
Skills & attributes that can help you
- Communication skills. As the work is concerned with court appearances, excellent verbal and written communication is required. Ideas and arguments need to be articulated clearly.
- Interpersonal skills. Barristers need to read people constantly in court, whether they are witnesses or jurors, or parties in negotiations.
- Management. Cases can be lengthy and involve considerable planning and preparation. Strong self-discipline and time-keeping are essential.
*Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) 2nd Edition, ABS Catalogue No. 1220.0, p131.
**Australian Jobs Matrix, 2018 Australian Government Job Outlook
The Law Society of NSW: lawsociety.com.au
ictorian Bar: vicbar.com.au