Becoming a criminal barrister is a worthy career goal one that will see you help many people, ensure that you play a role in helping justice be done, and also make a difference to the lives of those you work with. Barristers go through a two year training programme after getting their law degree, followed by a year of pupillage.
After the year of pupillage is up, they can work as a junior barrister in chambers, under a tenancy. At this point, you will start working on simple cases, and gradually be assigned more complex and more serious criminal cases over time.
Barristers often find this period very challenging, especially if they are self employed instead of working directly for the CPS. They may have limited finances since it can take a long time to get paid after finishing a case. They may find that the long hours are hard for them and that it is difficult to manage the workload. Career development for a barrister is incredibly important, and careers are made or broken by how well a barrister can manage their reputation.
Further career development for barristers involves investing in updating your skills and raising your profile so that you can get the most difficult cases, or, perhaps, move on from being a criminal barrister to ‘take silk’, and enjoy the next level of position in the courts that of the Queen’s Counsel.
Barristers can practice at the Bar and take on paid legal services, or they can remain self employed. It is helpful to join groups such as the Young Barristers’ Committee so that you can become more well known in the field and develop your skills. Whether your goal is to become a QC or just become an established and recognized barrister, CPD is very important. Ongoing training in ethics, case law, working practices and even study skills is hugely beneficial, and barristers are expected to earn a number of continuing professional development points each year to show that they are making an effort to keep their skills current. They can earn these points through training courses, reading professional magazines, watching webinars or attending conferences, or even through mentorship. A barrister’s work is never done and they cannot get complacent because every case and every person that they advocate for will present them with new and interesting challenges.
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