Guide to Becoming a Barrister in the UK

Perhaps you have always dreamed of becoming a barrister in the UK but have been put off by the stories of how difficult and challenging the process might be? While it is indeed challenging, the potential rewards of finally qualifying as a barrister will be well worth the hassle.

Essentially, you will need discipline, patience and intellect along with analytical and communication skills. If you think you possess these and are ready to test your abilities, you can follow the instructions in this guide and take up law to initiate the process of becoming a barrister in the UK.

Instructions

  • 1

    Earn a Bachelor’s Degree


    Getting a bachelor’s degree is the starting point of any career. Ideally you should get an undergraduate degree in law, but it is possible to acquire an undergraduate degree in another field and go through a conversion program that will enable you to go on to your vocational study for the bar.

    For applicants with an undergraduate degree in a field other than law, you will need to pass through the Graduate Diploma in Law or the Legal Practice Course routes before moving on. For more information on these conversion course options, please visit the website of the Central Applications Board at http://www.lawcabs.ac.uk/.

  • 2

    The Bar Course Aptitude Test


    This test is meant to determine if your intellectual abilities are suited for the Bar Professional Training Course, which is the next step in your journey to becoming a barrister. First you will need to register with a Pearson Vue centre in order to take this test.

    Pearson Vue Website: http://www.pearsonvue.com/

  • 3

    Bar Professional Training Course


    The Bar Professional Training Course is a vocational course designed to focus on areas such as case work skills, written skills, interpersonal skills and legal knowledge. Entrance into this program is conditional on your having completed an acceptable Undergraduate degree, the conversion course if necessary, and successfully taking the Bar Course Aptitude Test.

  • 4

    Getting called to the Bar


    Once you have successfully completed you’re the Bar Professional Training Course, you will eligible to be called to the bar and conferred with the title of barrister. However this is not the end of your journey to becoming a barrister. The title of barrister at this stage only enables you to complete the second stage of your pupilage year which entails doing actual legal work.

  • 5

    Pupilage


    This is the most important and probably the most challenging stage of your quest to become a barrister in the UK. You will undergo a one-year period of actual work experience at a barrister’s chambers or another firm which has been approved for pupilage by the Bar Standards Board.

    Your year of pupilage can be likened to a year of apprenticeship, during which you will be exposed to the real life work of a barrister, and it is divided into two six-month periods. Upon completion of your pupilage year, you will have qualified as a full time barrister.

    All pupilages are advertised on the pupilage website http://www.pupillagegateway.com/ ; however getting into a pupilage program is typically a very competitive process and you will need to have graduated with a high grade in order to stand a chance of getting into a program on your first try. If you don’t make it, you are allowed to apply again subsequently up until a five-year period after completion of the Bar Professional Training Course.

  • 6

    Tenancy


    Upon successful completion of your pupilage, you may be able to obtain tenancy with a Barrister’s chambers, which will enable you to practice as a self employed barrister. If you don’t get Tenancy then you will need to look for a job.

    For further guidance regarding the process of becoming a Barrister in the UK you can visit the Bar Council’s website at http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/becoming-a-barrister/.

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