HOW TO BECOME A BARRISTER IN ENGLAND

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The word lawyer is an umbrella term used to refer to solicitors and barristers. Solicitors can provide general advice on a variety of legal issues. However Barristers are advocacy specialists and independent sources of legal advice. They are specialists in certain legal fields. If a legal court matter involves a complicated specialty issue, a solicitor will find a barrister to take up the issue in court and represent the client. Barristers become involved only once advocacy is needed before a court.

Can I become a Barrister?

Being a barrister is a highly demanding, yet rewarding career. If you think you have an analytical mind, can approach problems logically, and have a sharp attention to detail, you may be able to become a successful barrister. To become a barrister, a solicitor must take exams and meet the requirements set by the relevant Bar Authority.

Qualifications needed to become a Barrister.

The three components of training that are required in order to qualify as a barrister are Academic training, Vocational training, and Pupillage or work-based training.

Academic Training:

To qualify for the academic component, you need a UK honours undergrad degree with a minimum of 2:2 or Lower Second-Class Honours (50-60%) or equivalent. It is preferable that the degree is in Law, however, if it is in another subject, you will have to undertake a law conversion course. This conversion course is commonly known as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).  You will also need to take the GDL if your law degree is over five years old.

Vocational Training:

While some academic courses also integrate vocational training in their offerings, most people start their vocational training after completion of the academic component. To begin your vocational training, first you have to take the BCAT. BCAT stands for the Bar Course Aptitude Test. It is also essential for you to join one of the four Inns of Court. These are the Middle Temple, The Inner Temple, Gray’s Inn, and Lincoln’s Inn. Which Inn you choose to join will not affect the areas of specialization. The Inns are there to support students and barristers in educational and social aspects.

Vocational training equips you with all the specialist competencies required to be a barrister. So far the vocational training was done by taking the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). However from September 2020 the BPTC has been substituted by many new Bar courses. These courses have different names but all satisfy the vocational training component. Some of the courses are Bar Course, Bar/Barrister Training Course (BTC), Bar Practice Course (BPC), Bar Vocational Course (BVC), Bar Vocational Studies (BVS) etc.

Pupillage or work-based training:

Once you have completed the vocational component, you have to complete a pupillage or work-based training to become a fully-fledged barrister. A pupillage is normally split in two parts called the “first six” and the “second six”. Each part usually takes six months to complete. The “first six” are non-practising, whereas the “second six” months are the practising months.

Competition to get Pupillage is extremely tough. One should apply for a diploma before starting a bar course. You may apply to up to twenty different authorized chambers for your Pupillage. If your pupillage application is unsuccessful, you may reapply. You must keep in mind however, that you need to obtain a Pupillage within five years of your Bar Course completion.

There are new training requirements for barristers coming into effect in England and Wales over the next few years. These will hopefully make becoming a barrister less complicated and more affordable. These new policies will also make this career avenue more accessible to a larger number of people while maintaining a level of quality. It is also expected that more training pathways will be approved and be made available after September 2020.

August 7, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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