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Barrister: Salary and conditions

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  • Salaries for those undertaking pupillage (final stage of qualification for the Bar) must be no less than £12,000 per year, set by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) . However, some chambers offer substantially more than the minimum and salaries can be up to £65,000 depending on the area of practice.
  • Qualified barristers can earn anything from £25,000 to £300,000.
  • Salaries for those with over ten years' experience can rise to £1,000,000.
  • Salaries around £30,000 to £90,000 can be expected for barristers in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) or the Government Legal Service (GLS) .
  • Salaries vary depending on a range of factors, including location, area of practice, experience, reputation and type of employer (self-employed or employed).
  • Earnings for barristers in the early stages of their career are sometimes extremely low and there may be a considerable delay between doing the work and receiving payment.
  • Around 80% of barristers are self-employed (The Bar Council , 2014) and have to contribute towards the running/overheads of chambers from their income, as well as covering their own tax and pension arrangements.
  • While courts tend to sit at regular hours during the day, barristers frequently have to work long, unsocial hours involving evenings and weekends, particularly at the beginning of their career.
  • Most opportunities are in London and other major cities and towns.
  • This is a demanding and intellectually challenging role, but there is a very supportive professional community.
  • Barristers are expected to conform to high standards of dress, ethics and professional conduct.
  • While it is relatively rare to travel or work overseas, travel within a working day is common.

Salary figures are intended as a guide only.

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Written by Gemma Halder, AGCAS
December 2014

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