How do I become a Commercial Barrister?

There are essentially three stages of qualification as a barrister:

  • The Academic Stage, namely a qualifying law degree. This can be either (i) an undergraduate degree in law, or (ii) a degree in another subject coupled with a one year Graduate Diploma in Law.
  • The Vocational Stage, namely the ‘Bar Professional Training Course’. This is currently a one-year course offered by 14 institutions around England and Wales.
  • The Professional Stage, namely pupillage, which also lasts a total of one year.

If you want to be a commercial barrister you will need to obtain a pupillage in a set of chambers which specialises in commercial work. Combar does not itself recruit future barristers, but its many member sets of chambers each offer a number of pupillages. Their websites can be consulted, or you can see the careers brochure for more details.

If you want to gain an insight into what it’s like to be a commercial barrister you should do one or more ‘mini-pupillages’ (work experience) before you apply. This will allow you to spend time in a set of chambers, see some commercial work and possibly even observe court hearings. Again, further details can be found on the websites of individual sets and in the Combar careers brochure.

Combar also offers funded work placements (see 25th anniversary scholarships) to those from less affluent backgrounds who are interested in a career at the Commercial Bar.

Finally, you will also need to be a member of one of the four Inns of Court (Inner Temple, Middle Temple, Gray’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn) and go through the formal step of being ‘called to the Bar’ before you can start in practice. Further information about this can be found in the careers brochure or on the Inns’ websites.

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