Becoming a barrister in England and Wales requires a combination of academic qualifications, practical training, and pupillage. The profession is regulated by the General Council of the Bar, and the process of becoming a barrister typically takes several years to complete. To become a barrister in England and Wales, you will need to follow these specific steps:
Complete the Bar Training Course: After obtaining a qualifying law degree, you will need to complete the Bar Training Course, which is a one-year full-time or two-year part-time course. Previously known as the Bar Professional Training Course, this course is also called the Bar Vocational Course, Bar Practice Course, depending on the training provider.
Find a pupillage: After completing the Bar Training Course, you will need to secure a pupillage, which is a period of apprenticeship under an experienced barrister. You can apply for pupillage through the Pupillage Gateway, which is an online application system for barristers' chambers.
Complete the pupillage: The pupillage is divided into two stages: the first six months (non-practicing period) and the second six months (practicing period). During the non-practicing period, you will observe and assist your supervisor in their work. During the practicing period, you will undertake your own cases under your supervisor's supervision.
Gain tenancy: After completing pupillage, you will need to find a tenancy, which is an agreement to practice as a barrister in a particular set of chambers. An offer of tenancy is effectively an invitation from a set to take a space in their chambers as a self-employed practitioner, sharing the services of the clerking and administrative teams.
Register with the Bar Standards Board: Once you have completed pupillage and found a tenancy, you will need to register with the Bar Standards Board, which is the regulatory body for barristers in England and Wales.
Complete Continuing Professional Development: As a barrister, you will be required to complete Continuing Professional Development training throughout your career to maintain your skills and knowledge.
Becoming a barrister is a highly competitive process, and not everyone who completes the Bar Training Course will find pupillage or tenancy. It is important to be prepared for the competitive nature of the profession and to seek out opportunities to gain relevant experience and network within the legal industry.