Just how Good is the Salary of a Barrister?

uk barristers salary

The salary of barristers, as with the salary of a solicitor, is incredibly diverse and depends on a wide range of factors. But as you probably know, barristers in general are very well paid. 

The Bar Council state that pupils must earn at least £1,000 per month, they may (depending on chambers) retain all second-six earnings in excess of the minimum requirement.

This is because barristers only start practising in their second six – so pupils can actually provide legal services and have rights of audience. However many chambers will offer substantially more than the Bar Council minimum (sometimes over £30,000).

Barristers wages may depend on the following criteria:

  • Area of law; commercial law usually pays very well where as legal aid barristers wouldn’t usually be paid as much.
  • Location; barristers in London will be paid more due to the increased price of living. The largest and most prestigious chambers are also usually located in London.
  • Experience & reputation; this one’s obvious. The more experienced and skilled a barrister is, the more money clients will be prepared to pay for their services.
  • Type of employment; barristers may be self employed at their chambers, or work directly for a firm. For example a barrister once qualified may work for a commercial firm in a salaried role.

The majority barristers are in the self employed category and operate within the a set of Chambers. This is typically done within the framework of a tenancy agreement; they need to pay a certain amount per month (rent) or a percent of their earnings.

The Chambers will provide a number of services to help in this self employment like collecting fees from clients, managing the diary of a barrister and even promoting their services. However the barrister has the opportunity to completely carve out their own future & reputation.

Their success is entirely down to them.

If they provide excellent service to their clients then they are bound to gain a positive reputation. As this reputation grows they will be able to take on higher profile cases.

One further element to keep in mind for self employed barristers is that there may be times where a client won’t pay on time, or other complications may arise. This means that as a barrister you could face periods where you may not be getting much income.

There may also be periods where no work is available or a case is settled early. This can be stressful especially when there are student loans and bills from Chambers to be paid. It adds a slightly unpredictable element to being a self employed barrister which a salaried barrister would not have to endure.

However as reputation increases and contacts are made these periods of reduced work should be eliminated.

Rough barrister salary

Because of the reasons stated above we can’t give you any reliable figures in regards to a barristers’ income. So don’t pay too much attention to these numbers! You need to think about what type of barrister you’re going to be to get any sort of accurate estimate. Remember these are very general numbers – there will be barristers both earning more and less.

A  typical barrister can be paid anywhere between £25,000 and £300,000 per year. However for a senior (over 10 years experience) barrister salaries up to £1,000,000 are not uncommon.

Barristers who want to work for the Government (GLS) or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) may get sponsorship for their BPTC. These barristers can be paid from £30,000 to £90,000 depending on experience.

Whichever area you work in, earnings should gradually increase over time.

Judges

If the judiciary is your target then the pay, as you would expect, is also very good. Solicitors and legal executives may also become judges.

The Lord Chief Justice last year (from Ministry of Justice data) had a salary of £239,845. Justices of the Supreme Court got £206,857, Lords Justices of Appeal £196,707 and High Court Judges £172,753. Circuit Judges and County Court Judges are on around £128,296.

However salary surely isn’t the primary reason to become a judge.

Have a look here for some information on how much a solicitor can earn & learn how you become a barrister.

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