You might have heard rumours that there are two species of lawyer, solicitors and barristers. To explain the difference simply, solicitors do the paperwork and brief the barristers who run the trial.
This does not mean that solicitors cannot appear in court (most do), rather it means that barristers are special advocates who have completed training to go to the Bar.
Barristers are not attached to a law firm, but work as individuals (often sharing a space with other barristers called “chambers”) and get referred work from solicitors. They are often experts in a particular area of practice.
Why would I want to become a barrister?
There are constant opportunities for learning and improvement and you get the thrill of every trial being different and unpredictable. You get to work for yourself and manage your own workload and time accordingly. You also get to interact with different members of the community and you can actually make a real difference to the lives of your clients and the law.
However, it’s not a job for the faint-hearted. You'll often be working all hours of the night and the morning in preparation for trial – it can be incredibly stressful. Also, there can be financial pressures involved with working for yourself.
So, how do I get there?
Firstly, it is advisable that you work as a solicitor for a few years, which is a requirement in some jurisdictions. Even where this isn’t a requirement, it would be nearly impossible to be a successful barrister straight out of law school as the amount of work you receive is highly dependent on your professional reputation.
To begin the process of becoming a barrister, you must be admitted to the Supreme Court in your jurisdiction. Then, you must take a “Bar Readers Course” and exams as well as a traineeship or a period of mentorship with an experienced barrister. Check with your jurisdiction's Bar Association or similar institution for the exact details, as the process will vary between states and territories.
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