Barristers are independent and objective. Their highly competitive training in litigation and advocacy, together with their specialist knowledge and experience in and out of court, can make a substantial difference to the outcome of a case, whether criminal or civil.
There are some 9,000 barristers in independent practice in England and Wales. Through them the Bar offers unparalleled expertise. Broad areas of specialisation include: Building and Construction, Commercial, Company, Criminal (including extradition), Defamation, Employment, Environment, Family, Housing, Immigration, Insolvency, Insurance, Liquidation, Personal Injury, Property, Taxation and Trusts, Wills and Estates. These can be subdivided further into more than 300 categories of expertise.
The Bar remains a referral profession, usually instructed by solicitors. However, members of certain professional bodies are able to seek advice direct from Counsel or may instruct counsel in non-court litigation. In some cases, members of the Bar provide their services pro bono, for example through Free Representation Units or the Bar Pro Bono Unit. Pro bono work has been undertaken also in humanitarian cases.
The Bar Council provides a regulatory framework, requiring work on complaints and discipline, ethics and standards, education and training, equal opportunities and pupillage. It also publishes guidance on a range of other subjects such as Practice Management, Health and Safety and Taxation.
The Council has representational responsibilities in many areas including the administration of justice and relations with Government, the European Union, legal professions in other countries, and other organisations with common interests. It participates in the negotiation of publicly funded fees and provides advice on legal aid matters, in addition to law reform consultation.
Bar Conference, London, October each year. Contact: Niall Morison, Chief Executive.
Journal or Newsletter
Bar News, published monthly. Contact: Annette Parsons at Bar Council. Counsel magazine, published 6 times a year.
Second class degree in law or second class non law degree and Common Professional Examination, Bar Vocational Course and Pupillage.
Continuing Legal Education Requirements
For first 3 years of practice - 42 hours. Thereafter 12 hours per year.
Code of Ethics
A Code of Conduct prepared by Bar Council covers all aspects of practice.
All barristers are subject to Code of Conduct. Full range of sanctions, including compensation, available for breach of Code.
Practice by Foreign Lawyers
Permitted, in certain circumstances. Contact the Bar Council, Professional Standards Department, for further information.
Current Officers & Leadership
Chairman of the Bar
Jonathan Hirst, Q.C.
Education & Training
2/3 Cusitor Street
London EC4A 1NE England
London WC1V 7JZ England
Records Office - General Council of the Bar
3 Bedford Row
London WC1R 4DB England