Interested in How to Become a Barrister?

Interested in How to Become a Barrister?

wig barristers wear

Becoming a barrister is certainly a very respected career choice. But in 2011 only 444 students got a pupillage. So the odds aren’t exactly in your favour!

With all that prestige comes a lot of hard work, effort and training. You need a good all round understanding of the law, the ability to clearly put forward your legal arguments, and the determination to qualify as a barrister in the first place.

It can take as few as 5 years or as many as 8 years to become a barrister depending on which route you take and whether you are doing full or part time courses.

First steps to qualifying as a barrister

The steps required to becoming a barrister are at first the same as becoming a solicitor. You will need to either have completed an undergraduate llb law course course at university, or have completed a non law course at university. If you have a non law degree you can then take a conversion course (GDL/CPE) for 1-2 years and convert your non law degree to a qualifying law degree.

The next steps are where the paths to becoming a solicitor and barrister part. Instead of completing the legal practice course you will need to undertake the Bar Professional Training Course (BVC/BPTC). This course is designed to prepare you for your pupillage and will focus on advocacy, mock trials and negotiations.

Barrister Pupillage

Next you either need to start your pupilage, or obtain a pupilage. Obtaining a pupilage is very competitive! Although there are no official minimum grade requirements for becoming a barrister (apart from completing the steps mentioned so far), any less than a 2:1 degree or commendation grade with the conversion course will have slim chance of success. Competition really is fierce.

If you manage to obtain a pupilage this will be the start of your one year apprenticeship. The pupilage can be with a barristers’ chambers or other organisation like the CPS or Government organisation.

The pupilage training is split into 2 sections – non practising and practising both of which last for 6 months. The first 6 months involve shadowing, filling in general paper work and research. The second 6 months the pupil will act in more of a practical role, often carrying out instructions and being responsible for a case load.

After successful and satisfactory completion of the year you will be a fully qualified barrister. Congratulations, you have joined the bar!

Note: before the second six pupils must apply to be called to the bar. It’s essentially the graduation ceremony for pupils and will be held at the Inn the pupil is a member of.

Employment & beyond as a barrister

The last stage is to find employment. You may find employment working for a commercial law firm or obtain a tenancy in a chambers. This can be competitive. A good choice would be to attempt to obtain a tenancy in the chambers in which you had your pupillage. If you have been working as a barrister for the CPS or Government they will usually keep you on and employ you in a role they see fit.

Newly qualified barristers are expected to undertake 45 hours of extra training in their first 3 years, then 12 hours of training for every year they practice after that.

In conclusion, the qualifications for a barrister in the UK are:

  • LLB university degree
  • Bar Professional Training Course
  • 1 year pupillage


  • 3 year undergraduate
  • Law Conversion Course
  • Bar Professional Training Course
  • 1 year pupillage
If you want more detailed information see our barristers page.