What does a barristers’ clerk do?
A barristers’ clerk is responsible for the administrative work in a barristers’ office, or a chamber as they are known.
The term ‘clerk’ is in some ways misleading as the role is actually quite senior and carries a high level of responsibility.
Day-to day tasks
Barristers’ clerks carry out a wide range of tasks to support the work of barristers and chambers. The work includes:
- Preparing documents for court
- Meeting with clients and liaising with the chamber on the best barrister for their case
- Negotiating fees etc. with solicitors
- Case timetabling
- Case co-ordination e.g. arranging meetings, conferences etc.
- Liaising between clients, solicitors and barristers
- Managing barristers’ work diaries
- Carrying out legal research for barristers
- General administrative duties
The more senior a barristers’ clerk is, the more high-level responsibilities they will take on.
Training and qualifications
There are no formal entry qualifications required to become a barristers’ clerk. However, a good standard of general education is essential for most positions.
At least 4 GCSEs at grades A-C will normally be the minimum requirement. Many barristers’ clerks also have good A-levels and many have degrees.
Many barristers’ clerks undertake training before or during employment, as well as being trained on the job by an experienced clerk. The Institute of Barristers’ Clerks, for example, runs a BTEC course for barristers’ clerks.
A barristers’ clerk will be expected to have some knowledge of the law and legal proceedings, particularly the areas of law which the chamber specialises in. They will also be expected to keep up with changes in the law.
To be a successful barristers’ clerk, it helps if you are:
- Diplomatic and tactful – some cases may be of a sensitive nature
- Able to work well with others and independently
- Committed – you will be required to keep up with changes in the law and unsociable hours may sometimes be required
- Highly organised – your organisation and co-ordination skills will be key to making sure a chamber runs smoothly
- A good communicator – you’ll be communicating with a range of people every day and being able to communicate in a professional and friendly manner is essential
The majority of barristers’ clerks work for chambers, which are usually based in cities. It is possible for barristers’ clerks to work freelance or remotely and although this type of working currently accounts for a minority of opportunities, it’s an area that looks set to grow. Through freelance or remote work, a barristers’ clerk would be likely to support barristers who also work in this way.
The amount a barristers’ clerk is paid will depend on the seniority of her position, the size of the chamber and its location.
A junior a barristers’ clerk is likely to earn a minimum of £12,000 per year. More senior, experienced clerks earn from £35,000 to £55,000.
Although it isn’t the norm by any means, it is not unheard of for a barristers’ clerk to earn over £100,000.