A barrister is a qualified lawyer who specialises in courtroom advocacy in complex legal matters.
Bachelor's degree + professional registration
What does a Barrister do?
A barrister is a qualified lawyer who advises and represents individuals, businesses, and government agencies on complex legal issues and disputes. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy and litigation. A barrister provides legal advice and drafts documents in complex matters. They conduct negotiations and appear in courts and tribunal hearings on behalf of clients. Generally, the barrister is briefed by a solicitor, who instructs the barrister on behalf of a company or private person when a case requires specialist expertise or advocacy skills. A barrister may also undertake research and consult with clients and witnesses. Barristers wear wigs and gowns in some courts, while solicitors do not. It is common to practise as a solicitor for a few years before becoming a barrister.
As a barrister, your work could include:
- meeting with clients to discuss their legal situation
- taking briefs from a solicitor
- researching points of law from previous similar cases
- preparing court briefs and legal arguments
- representing clients in court
- providing written legal opinions
- negotiating settlements for clients.
Barristers usually specialise in a particular area of law - for example, family law, environmental law, commercial law or criminal law.
Crown Prosecutors are experienced criminal barristers who are appointed to work exclusively for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and are allocated the most serious and complex matters.
Key skills and interests
To become a barrister, you would need:
- a high level of academic ability
- intimate knowledge of the law
- excellent communication and advocacy skills
- good research and writing skills
- the ability to analyse large amounts of information
- a logical approach and a high level of attention to detail
- the ability to work well under pressure
- high standards of ethics and professional conduct.
Working hours and conditions
Your working hours would often be long and may include evenings and weekends.
In private practice, you would be self-employed and usually share chambers with other barristers. You would divide your time between chambers and court. As an employed barrister, you would be based at your employer's offices and would travel to meetings, court or tribunals as necessary. In court, barristers wear a wig and gown.
How to become an Barrister?
Entry Level Education
Barristers are qualified lawyers. To become a lawyer you usually have to complete a degree in law at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent with English.
In some states of Australia, you can also become a lawyer by completing a Diploma in Law, followed by a period of practical legal training. Barristers have to undertake Bar examinations in addition to completing a degree in law and practical legal training.
All lawyers working in Australia must obtain a Local Practising Certificate, which may be granted after the successful completion of a law degree, plus further study and an approved practical training course. After this training, you can apply to the Supreme Court for admission as a lawyer. To be eligible for admission you must satisfy the requirements of the appropriate legal admission board. To work as a barrister you must have a Barrister's Practising Certificate, which requires further study and examination by the appropriate State Bar association or other relevant body.
Lawyers, solicitors and barristers must be of good character and abide by strict professional rules to be admitted and to be allowed to continue practising law.
Employment of lawyers and barristers is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Demand for legal work will continue as individuals, businesses, and all levels of government require legal services in many areas.