How to become a barrister clerk (with definitions and steps)
Updated 31 July 2023
A barrister's clerk position is an exciting role that allows you to work independently while building recognition in the law industry. The role usually involves handling the day-to-day activities of a barrister, such as scheduling court appointments and preparing documents, amongst other administrative activities. Understanding the requirements for this role can help you start a career as a barrister clerk. In this article, we define what a barrister clerk is, provide steps to becoming one and highlight what you can earn.
Related: How to become a court usher
How to become a barrister clerk
Here are some steps that can help you become a barrister clerk:
1. Get an education
Having a bachelor's degree isn't mandatory for a barristers clerk role, but it can give you an advantage over other candidates. Some chambers require at least GCSEs in English and Maths for the role. You can take short courses that may help you perform excellently in your role, regardless of your level of education.
2. Craft your CV
Your CV is vital because it shows potential employers your skills and experience. Prepare an impressive CV that highlights your qualifications that are suitable for the role. To achieve this, you can search for sample barrister clerk CVs for inspiration.
3. Prepare a cover letter
A cover letter can help you elaborate on why you're the best fit for the job. Summarise your qualifications and experience relevant to the role. You can also state what interests you about the barrister's career and how you can contribute your skills to the chambers. This is also a great opportunity to showcase your writing skills, which the role may require. Ensure your letter is interesting and can stand out from other applicants' cover letters.
4. Search for jobs
Search for the barrister clerk job openings you're qualified for. You can use job websites to conduct your search, professional social media platforms or the website of notable chambers. You can also directly contact any barrister you're interested in working with.
5. Apply for jobs
Show your interest in barrister clerk job openings by applying for them. Search the chamber's website to gain insight into their values and work culture. This may be useful information that can help you respond properly to the questions asked in the application form.
6. Prepare for the interview
You can prepare for the interview by practising with frequently asked barrister's clerk interview questions. You may find this on career-related blogs. Also, search for information concerning the law cases handled in the chambers. Your interviewer may ask you something related to the sample questions or the chambers during the interview stage.
7. Apply for volunteer jobs
Volunteering to work as a clerk in a legal firm or non-governmental organisation may give you relevant work experience that can help you launch your career. Having work experience may make you eligible to apply for high paying office assistant jobs in a chamber. Working in an unpaid job can help you acquire relevant skills such as business writing, effective listening and other interpersonal skills.
What is a barrister?
A barrister is a lawyer that specialises in supporting their clients by appealing to the judge and jury on their behalf in court. Their clients may be an individual, a group of people or a company. They often get hired to either plead for their client's case to be dropped or to sue their clients' opponents.
Related: How to become a barrister
What is a barrister clerk?
A barrister's clerk is an official whose job function involves supporting a barrister by managing the operational activities of the chambers. They help to sustain the level of productivity in the office by ensuring all the barrister's responsibilities are met. Some of their tasks include filing documents, scheduling appointments, managing payments of case fees and updating other relevant records. It's a vital role that may require you to be very passionate and put in your best.
Related: What is a paralegal?
Barrister clerk skills
Some skills employers look out for in a barrister clerk are:
This job role requires the use of verbal and written communication. Enhancing your communication skills may help you perform better at completing your tasks. Also, highlighting this skill in your application may be beneficial to you because employers often look for this skill in barrister clerks.
Related: What are communication skills?
As a clerk, your duties may involve crafting documents such as memos, schedules, invoices, agreements and proposals. Having basic technical skills like typing, editing, graphic design and online research can help you perform your duties effectively. You can enrol for short courses to learn these skills or study self-learning materials available online.
Attention to detail
It's essential to be meticulous when managing the activities in the chamber. A slight oversight may have an overwhelming impact on the barrister or a legal case, especially when you are preparing or delivering legal documents. Proper scheduling of activities, adherence to timelines and regular exercise can enhance your attention to detail.
Ability to work independently
Being able to work well with little or no supervision is a key skill employers look out for. As a barristers clerk, it's important to complete your tasks on time and proffer solutions at work. This skill may help in sustaining the overall level of productivity in the chamber. You can highlight this in your application by giving instances of when you completed a complex task on your own.
Ability to multitask
The job may require you to carry out several tasks simultaneously with short timelines. Having this skill can help you have a positive impact on your level of productivity at work. Highlighting this skill in your application or interview by providing scenarios of how you have successfully handled many projects at the same time may help you get the job.
Tips for excelling in the job
Here are some tips that may help you excel at being a barrister clerk:
Being able to attend to your tasks on time can help you succeed in this field because deadlines are essential in the legal world. For instance, your supervisor may ask you to deliver some documents to a courtroom at a particular time that may be vital to the lawsuit. Your time of delivery may affect the success of the case.
It's important to keep confidential information you may come in contact with while working. This can help you gain the trust of your employer and coworkers. Clients may require the barristers to sign non-disclosure agreements before hiring them, and any breach of this contract may have a negative effect on the future of the chambers.
Having a great work ethic can help you get noticed by your employer, which may lead to a promotion, pay raise or more responsibilities at work. Being diligent involves putting in your best efforts when performing your duties. It can also include taking initiatives to handle some tasks without being told to do so. For instance, you can decide to work extra hours to ensure you can provide your support for a vital project.
To build an outstanding reputation at work, it's important to be consistent with your hard work. You can achieve this by staying positive and motivating yourself with the help of motivational books or interviews of successful barrister clerks.
Be willing to learn
It's essential to stay updated with the latest legal news relevant to your chambers. This can help you have an understanding of the common legal terminologies your employer may require you to use when preparing documents. Also, you can learn about more effective ways to accomplish your tasks. In most cases, you get to learn on the job because of the variety of duties you may handle relating to several industries.
How much do they make?
A barrister's clerk makes an average of £20,000 to £40,000 annually, depending on their job level. For instance, a senior clerk usually earns more than a junior clerk. Also, as a barrister's clerk, you may work for about 40 hours weekly.
Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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