How do I find reading accommodation (chambers)?

Frequently, accommodation is available on the same floor as the tutor's chambers. However, this is not always possible. The Bar Association web site contains a register chambers accommodation. Many floors have a reader's room that is made available at no cost or at a low cost to one or two readers each year.

Some tutors will share accommodation for a period. This possibility is generally noted in the statutory list and should be discussed at the initial interview.

Readers are advised not to purchase chambers immediately. It is very important to keep overheads as low as possible in the first year or two and it often happens that practice interests change or develop in the first year so that a change of chambers may become desirable. Options to explore include:

(a) Sharing
With the consent of the floor, persons may share a room: the person who owns, leases or licences the room allows another person to share it for a relatively low monthly charge.

(b) Floating
Again, with the consent of the floor, a new barrister may 'float'. Floaters take a chance that at any moment of time, one or other room on the floor will be vacant. On a floor where the members go on circuit or do a lot of work in suburban courts, 'floating' can be less disruptive than it sounds.

Do I have to have chambers?

The question is often put: 'May I practise from home?' or 'I can't afford chambers. Why do I need to go to such expense?'

There is no rule prohibiting practise from home. However, new barristers are strongly advised to obtain accommodation within chambers. It is important for barristers to be part of a community of counsel and to be close to the courts in which they practise. Another important aspect is that there is no limit to the help that is given by one barrister to another. A new barrister cannot afford to let this valuable, indeed essential (yet free) help pass by. The philosophy of the reading period is based on a close tutor/reader relationship, which is greatly facilitated by the proximity of chambers to courts. Barristers continually assist one another at all stages of their careers.