Barrister in pupillage

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Lisa Anderson knew from an early age that she wanted to work in law. She has worked steadily towards that goal, and as a pupil barrister, she is already representing clients in court.

What does your job involve?

There are two main aspects to working as a pupil barrister. Firstly, I am required to advise each client on the application of the law and rules of evidence to the particular facts of their case. This can include advising them about the prospects of success in a contact dispute, or indicating the likely sentence in a criminal case.

Secondly, I undertake the oral presentation of my clients' cases in court. I attend a wide variety of hearings, varying from short unopposed applications to day-long contested trials. At this stage in my career I work in a diverse variety of legal areas, including criminal, civil, family and immigration law.

Do you have a typical day?

No, everyday is very different depending on the type of hearing I am required to attend. On some days, I don't attend court and I work from chambers, preparing for forthcoming cases.

What equipment do you use?

The most essential item of equipment is a laptop computer, and some barristers will use their laptops in court to take notes of the evidence. I also have access to extensive legal databases, including libraries.

What was your route into this job as a barrister in pupillage?

I followed a very academic route into a career as a barrister. I started my law degree straight after school, then went on to law school and immediately into pupillage.

What training have you received?

Before commencing my pupillage, I had to complete my law degree and bar vocational course (BVC) which taught practical skills such as advocacy and negotiation. Throughout my career, I'll be required to undertake further skills training. I will also attend lectures to keep up to date with any recent legal developments.

What hours do you work?

The hours of work can vary greatly from day to day. During my pupillage, I am required to be in chambers between 9.00am and 6.00pm if I'm not in court. On some days it is necessary to be in court all day; on others it is possible to be finished by 11 .00am. On average, I work approximately 55 hours per week.

What do you like best about your job as a barrister in pupillage?

I enjoy the sense of satisfaction I get when I feel I have conducted a case well and I win. However, in many family cases it is sometimes more important to have an arrangement that both parties are content with, so I'm also pleased if I obtain a good workable settlement for a client.

What are the skills needed?

It's essential to be confident with strong interpersonal skills. You need to be able to communicate arguments using the appropriate language and tone for a particular audience. It's important to remember that clients are usually in some sort of difficulty and will seek honesty and reassurance from those who represent them.

Lisa's route to working as a barrister in pupillage

  • A levels.
  • Degree in Law (LLB).
  • Bar Vocational Course (BVC).

Lisa's barrister in pupillage tips

  • Obtain a good law degree from a well-respected university.
  • Get plenty of work experience or mini pupillages.
  • Gain experience of speaking and debating to increase your confidence.

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Salary of a barrister in pupillage

  • During pupillage most barristers receive between £10,000 and £20,000 a year.
  • Practising barristers/advocates are self-employed and the majority earn between £19,000 and £260,000.
  • A few top barristers earn over £1 million. Employed barristers/advocates receive a salary.
  • In the Crown Prosecution Service, income can vary between £21,506 and £55,088; in the Procurator Fiscal Service, from £22,000 to £52,300.

Becoming a barrister in pupillage

  • In England and Wales, entrants require either an approved law degree (at least 2:2), or a non-approved degree (at least 2:2) followed by the Common Professional Examination (CPE), or a Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PgDL).
  • In Scotland, they need a degree with honours in Scottish Law from a Scottish university (2:2 or above), or an ordinary degree in Scottish Law together with an honours degree (2:2 or above) in another subject from a university elsewhere in the UK, or an ordinary degree with distinction in Scottish Law. They then need to complete a one-year full-time postgraduate course at a Scottish university leading to the Diploma in Legal Practice.
  • Students must then undertake either a Bar Vocational Course (barristers) or a Legal Practice Course (solicitors).
  • They then complete a programme of vocational training involving pupillages and practice work under supervision.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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