Life as a Barrister
About 80% of barristers are self-employed. The rest are employed in industry, commerce or central or local government. Self-employed barristers work in offices called 'chambers', which they may share with other barristers. On completion of their training, barristers apply for a permanent position known as 'tenancy' in a set of chambers. Barristers therefore effectively run their own business. Costs such as offices, clerks and bills are usually shared with the other members of chambers.
In considering a career at the independent Bar, you should consider whether you are suited to working in a self-employed capacity. Some of the key considerations include your commitment to manage your income so that you can pay your own taxes, save for your pension without employer contributions and manage without paid annual leave, sick leave or maternity/paternity/adoption leave. The advantages of being self-employed include greater scope to shape and determine your own career, to develop your specialisations and to be your own boss.
Government Legal Service (GLS)
The GLS employs around 2,000 lawyers and is the umbrella title for the legal teams in central government, agencies and public bodies. Working for the GLS, you will be involved in the enormous amount of legal work generated by the Government across numerous areas of law. GLS lawyers undertake drafting, advisory and litigious work and are given the opportunity to gain experience in a wide range of work. The GLS employs both barristers and solicitors and runs a training scheme for trainee solicitors and pupils.
Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
The CPS is a Government department, which employs around 8,300 staff throughout the country and is responsible for the majority of prosecutions in criminal cases. About 35% of staff are qualified prosecutors and more than 93% of all staff are engaged in, or support, frontline prosecutions. The work is carried out by barristers and solicitors known as Crown Prosecutors. They will review the evidence collected by the police to ascertain whether there is sufficient evidence and whether it is in the public interest to proceed. Once you have completed the BPTC, you can apply for a one-year pupillage at the CPS and qualify as a barrister. This is an alternative to self-employed practice for anyone interested in working in the Criminal Justice System.