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  • A man, wearing a suit and tie, is collecting a sheet of paper from a pigeon-hole.

    Inside the chambers, the barrister will do things like check their mail.

  • A man, wearing a suit and tie, is standing next to a row of book shelves.  The book shelves are full of large hardbacked books.  He is reading one of the books.

    Research is a major part of the barrister's workload. This could be through looking at legal documents in the chamber's library.

  • A man, wearing a suit and tie, is sitting at a desk, in an office.  He is using a computer.

    Using the Internet to research a case.

  • A man is waiting outside a court building.  He is wearing a barrister's wig and robes.

    A key part of being a barrister is attending court. Here, the barrister is waiting to enter the high court. The documents he is holding are the 'brief'. This is indicated by the pink ribbon.

  • A large, multi-storey Georgian building stands behind some lawns and a small garden.

    Many barristers are based in shared offices, known as chambers. This is a set of chambers in the Middle Temple Inn, in London.

  • A man, wearing a suit and tie, is sitting at a desk, in a small office.  He is using a telephone.

    Discussing a case with a client.

  • A man, wearing a suit and tie, is sitting at a table, talking to a woman.  He is writing on a sheet of paper.

    When a client discusses their case with the barrister, it is called a conference. This can take place in-person, or sometimes on the phone.

  • A man, wearing a suit and tie, is standing in an office. In the office, various people are sitting at desks, using computers.

    They'll liaise with the barrister's clerks. Here, the clerk is telling the barrister what he'll be doing tomorrow.

  • Lawyer

Lawyer

Introduction

If you enjoy public speaking and getting your points across in arguments, then Lawyer might be the job for you. You'll also need to be someone who enjoys research and problem solving.

Also known as

  • Legal Counsel
  • Barrister

Video: - Julia: Barrister

Video: - Chantal: Commercial Lawyer

Work Activities

In this country, the term 'Lawyer' describes two different roles, both qualified to provide expert legal advice and to support clients. The roles are:

  • Solicitor
  • Barrister (Advocate in Scotland)

**Please take a look at the individual career profiles for more details about each role**

Solicitor

As a Solicitor you will provide people with legal advice and assistance. You'll work directly with your clients and are usually the first point of contact for anyone looking for legal advice.

Some of the different areas of law that you might deal with are:

  • criminal law
  • conveyancing
  • family law, including divorce and custody of children
  • probate
  • European law

If a criminal or civil law case goes to court, you'll usually give information and instructions (a 'brief') to a Barrister, who will argue the case in court.

Barrister

As a Barrister you will be 'called to the bar', to represent your client or organisation in court. You will wear the traditional wig and gown as you defend you client. Usually you will be hired by a Solicitor to perform this task, although clients may approach you directly and ask you to represent them in court.

As a Barrister you might be self-employed, or you might be employed by a government department such as the Government Legal Service or the Crown Prosecution Service.

When not appearing in court, you will be working in chambers where you will carefully prepare for future court cases.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To do this job well, you'll need:

  • to enjoy research and be able to concentrate for long periods of time
  • the ability to understand and explain complicated arguments
  • problem-solving skills
  • to be able to present cases clearly and with confidence
  • excellent time management skills
  • to be able to write documents in plain English
  • excellent communication skills as you'll be dealing with people, such as other Lawyers, Solicitors and clients
  • to work well under pressure

As an independent (self-employed) Lawyer, you must be able to manage your own businesses.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £46,000 - £56,000
  • With experience: £65,500 - £81,000
  • Senior: £89,000 - £103,000

Hours of work

Employed Lawyers work standard office hours. However, late finishes and weekend work can be quite common. Independent Lawyers are less likely to work regular hours as they are self employed.

Where could I work?

Employers include local authorities, the Government Legal Service (employs around 1,900 lawyers) and the Crown Prosecution Service (employs around 2,700 lawyers). Other employers include large commercial companies.

Lawyers may also work in a law centre, which offers free legal advice to members of the public. A small number of Lawyers work for the police and the armed forces.

Lawyers work in towns and cities throughout England and Wales. However, around half the total number of independent Lawyers practise in London.

Self-employment

Independent Lawyers in practice at the Bar, are self-employed.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

The term 'Lawyer' describes two different roles, both qualified to provide expert legal advice and to support clients - Solicitor and Barrister.

**Please take a look at the individual career profiles for more details about each role**

To become a Lawyer you will need to study for a law degree. You can do this full-time, before applying for trainee Solitor posts, or you can study for your degree as part of a Higher Level or Degree Apprenticeship. Take a look at our information article for more information about Apprenticeships.

Once you have completed your degree, you will then move into gaining further education and training within a legal environment.

You can also qualify to become a Lawyer with a non-law degree, but this route will take slightly longer as you will need to study a one year full-time or two year part-time course which will prepare you for further legal studies.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Relevant Work Experience

Before applying for a law degree, relevant work experience can help you to develop key skills needed for this career. If you haven't already got some, try and arrange some work experience within a legal environment e.g. a law firm. This would look great on your application.

Progression

Lawyers progress by building expertise in particular areas of the law. Some Lawyers after many years of service become equity partners in a firm.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

This career is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to. This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.

Qualifications

To enter a degree course in law, you usually need:

  • 3 A levels
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in your A level subjects
  • A further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths.

A number of universities do not accept general studies or critical thinking at A level, so always check the specific entry requirements.

Other qualifications are often acceptable as alternatives to A levels, for example:

  • Vocational Level 3 qualifications (a subject such as Applied law will help you to stand out from the crowd).
  • The International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Because of very strong competition for places on all legal courses, successful applicants usually have high A level grades - you should check college/university websites carefully for specific requirements.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

If you are a non-graduate, you should contact the Bar Standards Board to see if any experience and qualifications you have could enable you to enter training (this is at the Bar Standards Board's discretion).

Courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Law) could be the way in.

These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Alternatively, if you have a non-law degree, you can take the Common Professional Examination (CPE)/Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), part-time or by distance learning, over two years.

A number of centres offer degrees in law by distance learning. Applicants should check whether these courses are validated by the Law Society and the Bar Standards Board.

The Open University offers a qualifying law degree by distance learning and also offers postgraduate Law qualifications.

Funding

Adults can apply for a scholarship from the four Inns of Court, for either the CPE or Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).

Further Information

Skills for Justice

Skills for justice, community safety, armed forces and legal services

Address: Distington House, 26 Atlas Way, Sheffield S4 7QQ

Tel: 0114 2611499

Email: info@sfjuk.com

Website: www.sfjuk.com

Queen's University Belfast

Irish enquiries

Website: www.qub.ac.uk

Open University (OU)

Tel: 0845 3006090

Website: www.open.ac.uk

The Bar Council

Address: 289-293 High Holborn, London WC1V 7HZ

Tel: 020 7242 0082

Email: contactus@barcouncil.org.uk

Website: www.barcouncil.org.uk

Law Society of England and Wales

Address: The Law Society's Hall, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL

Tel: 020 7242 1222

Website: www.lawsociety.org.uk

Legal Expert

Open University Law School

Tel: 0800 289997

Email: info@legalexpert.co.uk

Website: www.college-of-law.co.uk

Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS)

Irish enquiries

Address: 10 Lennoxvale, Belfast BT9 5BY

Tel: 028 9097 5567

Email: iplsenquiries@qub.ac.uk

Website: www.qub.ac.uk/schools/InstituteofProfessionalLegalStudies/

University of Ulster

Irish enquiries

Tel: 028 7012 3456

Website: www.ulster.ac.uk

Law Society of Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Enquiries

Address: 96 Victoria Street, Belfast BT1 3GN

Tel: 028 9023 1614

Email: enquiry@lawsoc-ni.org

Website: www.lawsoc-ni.org

All About Law

Address: 89 Worship Street, London EC2A 2BF

Tel: 020 7392 2648

Email: hello@allaboutlaw.co.uk

Website: www.allaboutlaw.co.uk

Bar Standards Board

Address: 289-293 High Holborn, London WC1V 7HZ

Tel: 020 7611 1444

Email: contactus@barstandardsboard.org.uk

Website: www.barstandardsboard.org.uk

Getting into Law

Author: Lianne Carter Publisher: Trotman

Law Society Gazette

Publisher: The Law Society

Email: gazette-jobsadvertising@lawsociety.org.uk

Website: www.lawgazette.co.uk

Law Careers.Net

Address: New Hibernia House, Winchester Walk, London Bridge, London SE1 9AG

Tel: 020 7234 0606

Email: info@lawcareers.net

Website: www.lawcareers.net

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)

Address: Rose Court, 2 Southwark Bridge, London SE1 9HS

Tel: 020 3357 0000

Email: enquiries@cps.gsi.gov.uk

Website: www.cps.gov.uk

Government Legal Service (GLS)

Address: 11th Floor, Lower Castle Street, Castlemead, Bristol BS1 3AG

Tel: 0845 3000793

Website: www.gls.gov.uk

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

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