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So, You Want to be a Barrister?

Updated: Mar 4

Iza Kashif is a penultimate year History student at King's College London! In her blog contribution, she lays out the different forms of experience that would aid an aspiring barrister as well as documenting the qualification process.


The allure of a barrister’s career spans from watching your regular courtroom dramas to physically going to a court and watching barristers present their submissions in front of you. However, the actual process to becoming a barrister is perhaps more daunting! This is where I step in to help guide you through it!

Perhaps the first thing that you should be doing in your route to becoming a barrister is navigating through the different areas of law. When one thinks of a barrister the first sector of law that comes to mind is Criminal Law but there are many more to choose from. For those who love keeping up to date with all things commercial and finance, Commercial and Corporate law would be a strong area of interest. Or, if you think of yourself as a social justice warrior Human Rights or Criminal Law might be your calling. An important to thing to note is that you don’t need to be crystal clear on the certain type of barrister you want to be, just yet. This will alter or be reinforced through the experiences you undergo on your journey.

That brings us on to the different forms of experience you can gain to aid in becoming a barrister.

  • As mentioned at the beginning of the article, going to courts and watching cases are a great form of experience. Despite COVID- 19 making it difficult to actually go to court such as the Old Bailey, many courts have live recordings of their cases which you can stream at home. Through these you will have a greater understanding of what barristers do to prepare for court and the structure of their arguments (or submissions).

  • In addition to this, doing debates or mooting at university is crucial! Not only do you build your analytical skills, but you learn how to structure your arguments/submissions for a formal environment. Through moots you receive exemplary feedback from your judges and fellow counsellors which helps you exponentially develop for your next round.

  • Mini-pupillages and vacation schemes are also a vital piece of work experience. Through the former you’ll get a variety of barrister-focused experience and the latter will give you a sense of how solicitors work enabling to decipher whether you like that sort of thing!

  • Non-law related work experience can also supplement your decision-making process. This can come in the form of a part-time job or being part of a society – as long as you demonstrate the transferable skills it has equipped you with, works well for your applications.

The next step would be either applying for a GDL if you are a non-law student and need to convert to a law degree or going straight to the BPC which is the vocational stage of your barrister training. After achieving your postgraduate qualifications, you go onto your pupillage which is a one-year training session split into two sections – the ‘first-six’ and the ‘second-six’. Once you have completed this period of your training, you’ll be able to secure tenancy and become a practising barrister!

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A career as a barrister is one that sounds deeply fulfilling and rewarding. The journey does sound intimidating, but it shouldn’t deter you because in the end it’s all worth it. Good luck!

Iza Kashif

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