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Law: What is a barrister?

Law: What is a barrister?

Barristers are specialist legal advisers and advocates representing their clients in court or a tribunal.

Barristers specialise in advocacy – the verbal presentation of legal arguments of your client’s case in court or in a tribunal, so – If you are interested in written and oral advocacy a career at the practicing bar may be for you!

However, you need to be aware that as a barrister the amount of advocacy (time at the bar) you undertake will depend on the area of law in which you specialise.

For example, Barristers specialising in criminal and family law are ‘advocacy heavy’ and will be likely to spend a great deal of time in court. While, in commercial practice you would spend less time in the court room, and more time preparing submissions,(Especially as civil procedure rules encourage the use of alternative ways of resolving disputes).

So, what does the day in the life of a Barrister specialising in criminal defence look like?

” On Monday morning I will spend 2 – 3 hours in my office making sure that all the submissions and paperwork are ready – the judges expect you to be prepared. Then I will head to the District court, it is good practice to visit your client in the holding cell if they have been arrested. Today, I am taking care of the weekend arrests. This includes anyone who has been arrested from Saturday onwards. The crimes are often alcohol induced – anything from disorderly behaviour to burglary.

Today my appearance is at 10am, and I have two clients that I am giving legal advice since they are unrepresented. Not two days are the same in this job, so you need to think fast, and on your feet. Helping people through the legal process is an important part of the job. Especially first time offenders!

I spend a lot of time in the Court, I would attend 3 cases a day mostly. It’s certainly an interesting job, but the role has it’s highs and lows. You will often meet people at their worst, and need to be prepared to accept and respect the legal framework that we work under”

Do you have what it takes to be a Barrister?

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You need to be able to assimilate information quickly, and then have the ability to craft written and oral submissions quickly!

1. Are you able to think on your feet, speak confidently in public and argue cases within a formal setting.
2. Do you have strong analytical skills?
3. Do you have strong work ethic?
4. Can you separate your emotion from your work?

How do you become one?

Barristers offering services need to be specialists in a particular area or industry so that they can be consulted by solicitors for a second legal opinion on more complex points.

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