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Barrister's clerk: job description

Barrister's clerk: job description

Barrister's clerks undertake the day-to-day business administration and running of a barrister's chambers.
In Scotland barrister's clerks (known as 'advocate's clerks') work for an 'advocates stable' and are employed by the Edinburgh based Faculty Services, part of the Faculty of Advocates.

What does a barristers' clerk do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Barristers' clerks work as administrators within barrister chambers. They keep chamber diaries up-to-date, calculate and negotiate fees for the work carried out and ensure every member is informed of their commitments.

Typical duties include:

  • negotiating and agreeing fees for cases
  • appropriately allocating cases to barristers, taking into account experience, availability, skills and specialisms
  • planning barristers’ workloads
  • negotiating and agreeing a timetable of required work
  • managing financial accounts
  • organising case fees collection
  • checking computerised diaries and court listings to avoid clashes in commitments
  • undertaking relevant research
  • carrying out administrative and business management activities
  • seeking work and marketing the chambers via events and seminars
  • keeping up-to-date with legal developments, particularly in specialist areas
  • liaising with solicitors and the Crown Prosecution Service
  • providing the client’s solicitor with information about progress or possible delays in cases
  • organising meetings between clients, barristers and instructing solicitors

By virtue of barristers' busy schedules, the work of a barristers' clerk can be demanding with long hours, heavy workloads and tight deadlines to match.

Vacancies can be found at the Institute of Barristers' Clerks website, among others, and in local newspapers and publications.

Directories such as Chambers UK Guide, the Bar Directory and the TARGETjobs Pupillages Handbook provide useful contact information for networking and speculative applications.

Typical employers of barristers' clerks

Barristers’ clerks work for barristers’ chambers, found mostly in London and other major cities, or practices clustered near regional law courts.

Qualifications and training required

Formal academic qualifications are not required for entry into the profession, although a degree in law may be advantageous.

Previous experience gained in a legal, business or court administration position is advantageous. Many chambers run work experience schemes which are usually heavily subscribed.

Once you have found a position, you can apply for membership with the Institute of Barristers' Clerks, which awards networking and support benefits as well as access to discounted training seminars.

Barristers’ clerks usually start in a junior position, progressing in time to senior clerks, at which point they can expect a higher salary and greater responsibility within the chambers.

Key skills for barristers' clerks

  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, both oral and written
  • Excellent organisational skills combined with good time and people management skills
  • A professional manner
  • Self-confidence, motivation and determination 
  • Good IT skills
  • Ability to handle high pressure, long hours and demanding deadlines

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