Friday, 26 January 2007


Hello and welcome to my brand new blog. As well as legal issues which make the media, I'll also be having my two-pence-worth on life in general, thus giving readers a fascinating insight into the day-to-day existence of the Legal Beagle. But first, for those not fortunate to be involved in legal circles, a little general information about one of our noblest professions - yes, that's right - that of the barrister...

We are self-employed advocates who are instructed by solicitors to represent clients. Thankfully, most of us aren't directly available to the general public, though that may well change in the future. Most of us at the Criminal Bar undertake work for both the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service, of which more later...) and defence solicitors. Though we are self-employed we group together in Chambers where we are managed by our clerks. Our clerks control our diaries, bill our fees and generally boss us about. Technically, they are our employees, but a barrister crosses a clerk at his or her peril.

To qualify as a barrister, you need to complete either a law degree or another degree followed by a conversion course, then the Bar Vocational Course (BVC). You then need to find a pupillage, which is basically a year-long apprenticeship in a Chambers. Competition for pupillages is fairly fierce. Once you finish pupillage, you have to secure a tenancy, which is a place in a Chambers from which to work.

When people find out that you are or are trying to become a barrister, they invariably all ask the same questions. So here they are, along with brief answers:

Q - Were you a solicitor before becoming a barrister?
A - No. (People sometimes switch from one to the other, but they are different jobs.)

Q - How can you defend people when you know they're guilty?
A - You can't. (People never believe us when we say this, but it's true. Also, they never ask how you can prosecute somebody you suspect is innocent, but there we go.)

Q - Do you wear a wig?
A - Yes.

Q - Do you have to be really clever to be a barrister?
A - No. Though many of us are.

Q - Don't barristers earn loads of money?
A - It depends. Junior criminal barristers certainly do not. Chancery and commercial practitioners often do.

There endeth the crash course in the Bar. I promise future posts will be more interesting. So please come back soon.

1 comment:

Alex (IMPACT IP&T blog) said...

Welcome to the blogosphere, Legal Beagle! Excellent start to the blog, looking fwd to reading about your work and experiences.