Job description of a barrister

Did I miss it? I have just undertaken a web search for a job description of a barrister, without much success. How interesting…

Targetjobs got my best score (nine out of ten points);  Allaboutcareers had a go : “yep, that’s right, barristers are likely to do a fair bit of advocacy work”:  (4 out of ten points); and the Bar Council condensed their attempt into five lines (a miserable 2 out of 10 points from me).

But to their credit, their purpose was one of general description, rather than role definition. Maybe they should be forgiven, and perhaps the blogger should have used more fastidious search criteria.

The problem with the job of barrister is that it really defies simple description. Possibly every barrister in private practice does a different job, and so merits a different job description. The assorted collection of types, personalities, practices and outlooks in chambers tells a similar story – where individuality can transform the type of work received, the way in which it is undertaken, and the level of income at the end of the tax year.

However, the blogger thought it might be fun to try to define the role. The interest of the exercise is not necessarily in the finished product, but more in the questions that arise in the journey. Take a look, and see how suited you are for the job!


 A barrister who:

  • complies with the 8th Edition of the Code of Conduct of the Bar of England and Wales;
  • has paid all fees and subscriptions to maintain practising status, and is listed as currently practising in the Barrister’s Register;
  • has passed chamber’s selection process and been admitted to chambers as a practising member;
  • complies with the responsibilities of a practising member as set out in the constitution of the individual set of chambers;
  • pays all dues required of a practising member under the constitution.

Job Description

Title:                            member of chambers (member)

Reporting to:            Head of Chambers

Hours:                         sufficient to undertake the demanding role of barrister

Function:                   to advise and act as advocate for professional and lay clients where instructed to do so.

Key Accountabilities

  1. To read instructions as soon as reasonably practicable and in any event within 7 days of receipt.
  2. To decide whether the member has the skill, expertise and experience to undertake the tasks required for that piece of work, and to return any instructions to the appropriate clerk that fall outside this requirement.
  3. To comply with the instructions:
    1. by the target date specified in the instructions,
    2. by key dates required by the court or tribunal,
    3. by any protocol,
    4. within an appropriate period of time taking account of the complexity of the issues, the amount of work to be undertaken, or any time scale agreed with the person instructing the member.
  4. To attend any hearing as directed.
  5. To notify the appropriate clerk if the member encounters any difficulty in attending a hearing at the specified date and time.
  6. To inform the appropriate clerk of the outcome of any hearing, where possible on the day of the hearing.
  7. To endorse in a legible manner on or with the instructions the outcome of any hearing and of any other work done by the member, and to prepare an attendance note for the client.
  8. If the member is unable to undertake or complete any work, to return instructions and case papers promptly to the appropriate clerk.
  9. To keep all instructions and case papers safely, to encrypt where necessary, to respect case confidentiality and to ensure that instructions and case papers are disposed of appropriately when work has been completed.
  10. To comply with the Code of Conduct of the Bar, the constitution of chambers, and protocols issued by the specialist bar associations.
  11. To respect the confidentiality of others within chambers and of chambers business.
  12. To comply with directions from the Head of Chambers, the member’s head of department, and in relation to administrative arrangements, the member’s clerk.
  13. To comply with statutory requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
  14. To report to the Head of Chambers any issues that may have a bearing on the professional reputation of the member or affect the standing of chambers.

The blogger is confident that he has only just scraped the surface with his serious list. ‘Inviting  judges for dinner’, ‘working throughout the night’, ‘cancelling the annual holiday’, ‘dealing with difficult opponents’ are some of the tasks that have not been included, but maybe should be there. Of what would your list comprise?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s