A career at the Bar

The essential qualifications for a career at the Bar are obtained through achieving admission as a lawyer in an Australian jurisdiction, passing all three Bar exams to the required standard, and completing the Reading Programme. Beyond that, it is difficult to generalise about the qualifications and resources, background and experience required for a successful career at the Bar.

The Bar traditionally embraces all comers. There is no universally accepted definition amongst barristers of what constitutes 'success' at the Bar. There is no common denominator to those who are able to build 'successful practices', however one might define a successful practice.

When coming to the Bar the reader is setting up a business. Obviously, business outgoings and personal living expenses must be paid. Usually, there will be little or no income in the first three to six months of practice. Even if a new barrister is lucky enough to obtain work and send out fee notices, the time lag between sending and receiving can mean that they will probably not be paid for some time. After three months, one might expect a small income, but it cannot be guaranteed. When planning to come to the Bar, one must assume that there will be no income for about six months.

Readers will need sufficient resources to be able to devote themselves to gaining experience and learning without requiring payment. A junior barrister needs to be able to afford to go to court with his or her tutor, undertake devilling (which is research work), and observing proceedings in court.