What does a barrister do?
Barristers often specialise in particular areas of law. They are mostly instructed by solicitors to work on cases that the solicitor thinks need the special knowledge and skills that an individual barrister can offer. This will often include representing people or companies in court proceedings: barristers tend to do more courtroom advocacy than solicitors. Many barristers are self employed and can be sent cases by any solicitor who wishes to brief them, but increasing numbers of barristers are employed by one solicitors' firm and work solely for that firm, often doing all of their advocacy in court.
In criminal law barristers will represent either the prosecution (who accuse someone of committing a crime) or the defence (the person who has been accused). They will deal with preliminary hearings and then present the case for the party they are representing, questioning witnesses and giving speeches. If someone is found guilty of, or pleads guilty to, a crime, then the defence barrister will also try and persuade the judge to pass the lowest sentence possible. Barristers will do most of their work in the Crown Court on more serious cases.
How do you become a barrister?
Just like a solicitor you will need a degree. If it is a law degree you will then do the Bar Professional Training Course, which lasts a year, followed by a year’s apprenticeship when you will be supervised by an experienced barrister. This is called pupillage. If you have done a different kind of degree then you will need to study law for a year before taking the Bar Professional Training Course. This is the Graduate Diploma in Law.