Do you have what it takes to stand up in front of a crowded courtroom and present a complex case on behalf of your client? Consider the following ‘must haves’ to help you decide if a career at the Bar is right for you.
- A talent for advocacy. How do you perform in university moots and debates? Do you enjoy performing in public? Are you eloquent and persuasive? You may suffer from nerves beforehand, but once you're on your feet, are you able to focus? If you don't feel confident, you need to be able to fake it.
- The ability to think on your feet. You'll have to respond quickly and articulately when you're on the spot in court.
- Willingness to work both on your own and in a team. The vast majority of barristers are self-employed, so strong self-motivation is crucial.
- Are you comfortable with initial financial insecurity? Most barristers are self-employed and responsible for their own finances, whereas solicitors are employed by their firms and receive a regular wage. Particularly in the early years, a newly qualified barrister may find that the flow of income is unpredictable.
There are also a number of skills that are essential for both barristers and solicitors.
- Stamina. A career at the Bar will call for some late nights and early mornings. Can you remain focused and articulate even when short on sleep?
- Excellent interpersonal and social skills. You'll need to be able to get on with a wide range of people.
- Outstanding oral and written communication skills.
- An impressive academic record. Do you have good GCSE and A level results? Are you on track for at least a 2.1?
- Good judgment.
- Enthusiasm and commitment.
- Attention to detail.
- Common sense.
- An interest in learning about new areas and providing clients with practical advice.