Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tough at The Bottom

This is a straight-from-the horse's-mouth article by a newly-qualified barrister that sets out the stark reality of life on the bottom rungs of the Bar career ladder. The writer is an example of some of the very best of our young lawyers, comprehensive educated, a degree at Oxford, but so far with little to show for it.
If we carry on as we are the Bar will revert to being a profession for rich kids only. I want the Bar to consist of the very best. Never forget that the freedom defended by an independent Bar might be yours one day.


  1. When I started at the Bar some 30 years ago there was no shortage of work.
    From the very first day on my feet I was knocking about magistrates courts doing the usual magistrates type of case. In those days cases adjourned and adjourned and you could make a living just really juggling balls( it was the same in the crown court). you had wonderful old- style( S6(1)) committals which were great fun, well paid and knocked out weak prosection cases before the enormous fees and costs in the CC. And, then there was the expost facto - red form - on legal aid where you could really pick an enormous fee out of thin air and it was usually paid. not anymore!

    There was enough crums for everyone and even the not so good managed to get enough to live reasonably well.

    Well the times have changed. I can remember listerning to Lord MacKay, the then Lord Chancellor telling us it was not the governments job to provide work for lawyer, or for that matter funding. Its all gone down hill since then.

    Whilst I agree there was a few gravy trains in the past, abuses of milking the system those have all crashed. Now there is not enough money to do even the basics.

    The reality for this poor girl is that it is going to be tough, even if she turns out to be fantastic there is no guarantee she will make a decent living and the skills needed across the Bar will shrink. Whilst there are still too many barristers chasing not much work we are still churning out young guns who having accumilated huge debts will never make a decent amount of mount.

    I'm glad to be approaching the autumn of my career and am senior enough not to have the worries the new kids have. I really feel for them but I can't see the government changing course. The know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  2. If medical schools were private (like the new £35,000 / year one in Milton Keynes), and if they trained far more doctors than could be employed, it would be regarded as exploitation of the students.

  3. When I qualified as a solicitor in the mid 1980's there were just 3 places where students could study for Law Society Finals (as the exam was then called). Now there are over 40 offering the Legal Practice Course. This explosion of places has certainly NOT been followed by the same increase in Training Contract places - a further 2 years of practical training before qualification. Are students being exploited? You Betcha they are...

  4. The Law Society has announced a day of action on the 7/3/14 - the struggle for Justice continues

  5. when I was staggered to learn just how poorly paid rookie barristers are, I asked a wise old agent prosecutor why on earth they did it for such minimal reward; his pithy reply was 'because if they don't someone else will'

  6. Hannah Evans has now got tenancy which correlates with the publicity surrounding her speech. Fair play to her, but it has to be remembered that she's doing a good deal better than the hundreds who are just as hard-working and talented but didn't get a pupillage, a third six or the opportunity to petition the profession with a noble speech.


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