How to become a barrister

Represent your clients in a court of law or at tribunals. Read on if you’re wondering how to become a barrister in Australia. 

Begin your barrister career

  1. Complete a Bachelor of Laws (or a Juris Doctor if you already have an undergraduate degree in another discipline) with your chosen university. You can earn your law degree online. 
  2. Complete a Practical Legal Training (PLT) program under the supervision of a lawyer. 
  3. Apply for admission to practice as a lawyer in your state or territory.
  4. Pass the entrance examination set by the Australian Bar Association (ABA) to qualify for the Bar Readers’ Course in your state or territory. 
  5. Complete the Bar Readers’ Course. 
  6. Work under the supervision of an approved senior barrister during what’s called a readership period.
  7. Become a member of the ABA to access continuing professional development, which is required to maintain your practising certificate. 
 

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What is a barrister?

A barrister is a highly trained legal professional who specialises in a particular area of the law. 

Unlike a solicitor, they must be an independent advocate, so they don’t practice within a legal firm or partner with other legal practitioners. Instead, they work alongside other barristers in ‘chambers’, and receive most of their cases from solicitors. It’s their job to appear on behalf of clients in court and other scenarios, anticipate the potential outcomes of a case and act accordingly. 

What does a barrister do? 

Barristers provide a wide range of legal services. Most of their work involves representing and advocating for clients at tribunals and in court. Barristers also offer expert legal advice, confer with clients and witnesses and conduct research. 

Barristers are experts in dispute resolution. They act as mediators, arbitrators, referees or conciliators for their clients.

Duties and tasks

The role of a barrister involves:

  • Examining evidence and drawing conclusions 
  • Representing clients in court or at tribunals 
  • Providing expert legal advice to solicitors, clients and other legal professionals 
  • Preparing cases
  • Researching precedents, case law and regulations 
  • Receiving legal briefs and creating action plans 
  • Resolving disputes
  • Negotiating settlements and drawing up settlement documents
  • Writing up legal documents such as affidavits and pleadings 

Barrister skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Impartiality 
  • Interpersonal skills 
  • Time management skills 
  • Self-discipline 
  • Ability to work in a team

Barrister salary

According to Payscale at the time of publishing in 2022, the average salary for a barrister in Australia is $99,000 per year.

However, this increases significantly with experience. A barrister with at least a decade in the profession can earn over $135,000 a year.

Industry bodies

 

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