Job as a Barristers Clerk

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Colin Clark is a barristers' clerk. Clerks working in barristers' chambers are managers involved in organising work and ensuring it is carried out on schedule. A barristers' clerk may also be called a clerk to chambers, and in Scotland, is known as an advocates' clerk.

What does your job as a barristers clerk involve?

I am responsible for the overall running and management of chambers. This involves marketing, diary management, the agreement of fees in liaison with clients, meeting clients in person, and the management of 20 staff and 65 barristers.

What equipment do you use?

I use a computer with specialist chambers' software, e-mail, word processing and accounts packages.

What was your route into this job as a barristers clerk?

I left school at 16 and went to work for a bank. A year after obtaining my banking qualification, I decided to become a junior clerk in a barristers' chambers. I took a significant drop in salary to take up the position, but since then I have worked through the ranks to the position of senior clerk.

Why did you choose this type of work?

I wanted a job where I was part of a relatively small organisation, so I could make a real difference and grasp opportunities.

What training have you received?

My training was mostly on the job. The assistance of more experienced clerks and, in particular, the guidance of the senior clerk, was invaluable. You also learn about the law through dealing with barristers and solicitors.

I also attend seminars provided by the Bar Council, members of chambers and the Institute of Barristers' Clerks (IBC).

What hours do you work?

My contracted hours are 9am to 6pm, but a typical day is from 7.30am to 6.30pm. If you want to be successful, long hours are part of the job.

What do you like best about your job as a barristers clerk?

I enjoy the challenge of organising 65 barristers and watching the careers of young barristers develop. It's also great when all the staff are working hard for you and respond positively to the pressures of the business.

Are there any disadvantages to your job?

There is a great deal of pressure to improve on last year's results. With a number of external forces trying to reduce barristers' salaries, this is increasingly difficult. Also, the job takes over your life the higher up the ladder you climb.

What are the skills and qualities needed?

Academic ability is necessary to progress to the higher levels of the profession. You must develop a decisive and determined nature, as the decisions you make may not be popular with some members of chambers. Mutual respect between the barrister and his/her clerk is fundamental to an effective working relationship.

What are your long-term career goals?

I would like to be remembered by members of chambers as a 'great clerk' who contributed to the development of barristers' careers. I would also like to increase the average earnings in chambers, stay employed and keep all staff, barristers and clients happy all the time!

Colin's route to his job as a barristers clerk

  • GCSEs.
  • Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (ACIB).
  • Qualified member of the Institute of Barristers' Clerks (IBC).

Colin's barristers clerk tips

  • Try to get a foot on the ladder and then prove yourself.
  • Going through the motions is not sufficient. The old cliché, 'going the extra mile', does work!

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Salary of a barristers clerk

  • The starting salary for barristers' clerks is around £12,000 to £15,000 a year.
  • Experienced clerks earn from £30,000 to £60,000 and some senior clerks earn over £100,000.

How to become a barristers clerk

  • Most chambers require clerks to have four GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) in academic subjects, including maths and English. Many trainees have A levels, and some have degrees.
  • The BTEC National Certificate in Business and Finance qualification has been specially developed in collaboration with the IBC. The course includes marketing and chambers administration.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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