Saturday, 21 March 2015 13:55

Steps to Becoming a Barrister

Steps to becoming a Barrister: whats involved?

  • You need to complete an undergraduate LLB law course or a non law course at university.
  • If you have a non-law degree you can then take a conversion course - the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) for 1 year (2 years part time) and convert your non-law degree to a qualifying law degree.
  • You then need to take the Bar Professional Training course (BPTC). This course is designed to prepare you for your pupillage and will focus on advocacy, mock trials and negotiations. This takes one year of full time study or 2 years of part time study.
  • Next you need to secure a pupillage. Obtaining a pupillage is very competitive. In 2011, only 444 students got a pupillage. This was only 16-20% of those that took the BPTC. It will be to your advantage to secure mini pupillages in your holidays (usually one week in length). 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 caseload.
  • After successful and satisfactory completion of the year you will be a fully qualified barrister.
  • The last stage is to obtain tenancy in a set of barrister’s chambers as a self-employed barrister or to go into practice as an employed barrister. This can be competitive.


The GDL replaces the law degree. Its content focuses on the seven foundations of legal knowledge that represent the basic knowledge requirements for the LPC. These are:

  • contract;
  • tort;
  • criminal;
  • equity and trusts;
  • EU;
  • property; and
  • public

The GDL is set internally by the individual institution. For full-time students, the final examination will normally comprise a three-hour paper in each of the seven core areas.

Finance and Funding

It is not cheap training to become a barrister. For 2011 admission, the course fees for the BPTC typically ranged between £10,000 to £16,000, depending on provider and location. GDL fees typically range from £4,000 to £10,000. You  may find that you can get some of your fees funded.

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