Becoming a barrister

There are three stages to complete to become a barrister.


Stage One: Academic study.  The first stage is academic and involves you gaining a qualifying law degree ('QLD') that includes the seven core subjects, such as the LLB (Hons) Law course at the Wolverhampton Law School.  If you study a non-qualifying law degree (i.e. a different subject or your law degree does not cover all of the seven core subjects) then you will need to do a postgraduate conversion course, such as the LLM Common Professional Examination at Wolverhampton Law School, before progressing onto the next stage.

Stage Two: Vocational study. The second stage is vocational and prepares you for work in practice by developing your practical application of the knowledge acquired during your QLD.  You are required to take the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), which is offered by a number of institutions in the UK.  Before registering for the BPTC you also need to join one of the four Inns of Court based in London (Inner Temple, Middle Temple, Gray's Inn or Lincoln's Inn), where you have to undertake 12 qualifying sessions (previously known as "dining"), which can be achieved in a number of ways, including the attendance at education days and a series of dinners.  Following successful completion of the BPTC and the qualifying sessions, you will be called to the Bar by your Inn.  You may refer to yourself as 'barrister-at-law' once you've been called to the Bar, although you won't be able to practise as one until you have completed a pupillage.  Further information can be found on the Bar Standards Board website.

Stage Three: Practical.  The final stage to becoming a barrister is practical.  If you wish to practise at the Bar in the UK, you need to complete a pupillage of least 12 months within Chambers. Most pupillages are split into two ‘Sixes’: the first six months is largely observational as you shadow a practising barrister and are given tutelage; the second six months sees you take on more of your own work under guidance. Some pupillages are spent with one barrister (pupil master), whilst some chambers provide experience in a variety of areas.  Competition is strong, so you should usually start considering your options and be looking for a place during your undergraduate studies.  Some barristers' offices, known as Chambers, run mini-pupillages to allow interested students the opportunity to experience the role.   International students intending to practise in their resident country usually complete their pupillage there.

Once you are a qualified barrister you will need to find a tenancy, which is a permanent base from which to practise. This may not necessarily be where your pupillage took place, however, if you show aptitude during your pupillage, you may be offered a tenancy in the same Chambers.