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Advocate Profile

Advocate Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Advocate. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Advocate
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Advocate Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Barristers (England and Wales) and advocates (Scotland) give advice about legal cases to their professional clients and represent clients in court. Their work includes:

• talking to other professional people
• giving written legal opinions
• reading law reports and witness statements to prepare for a case
• representing clients in court.

A barrister/advocate needs:

• academic ability and a good memory
• excellent spoken communication skills
• confidence
• to be able to think logically.

Barristers and advocates generally have to work long hours, including evenings and weekends, and may spend considerable time travelling. Most barristers work in offices called chambers. Advocates are members of the Advocates' Library in Edinburgh. During pupillage most barristers receive around £10,000 to £20,000. Once experienced, most earn between £19,000 and £260,000.

In England and Wales, candidates need an approved law degree or another degree and a postgraduate conversion course, followed by a Bar Vocational Course and two six-month pupillages. In Scotland, they need a degree in Scottish Law plus a postgraduate diploma. They work for 21 months in a solicitor's office and serve nine and a half months' pupillage.

It is usual to become a barrister/advocate under the age of 30. It is perfectly possible, however, to enter this profession as a second career. There are more than 10,000 self-employed barristers in England and Wales and 400 advocates in Scotland. Approximately 2,500 barristers work for specialist commercial law firms and other companies and about 500 work in government departments.

What does the role encounter?

Barristers (in England and Wales) and advocates (in Scotland) give advice about legal cases to their professional clients (mainly solicitors and legal executives) and represent clients (individuals or organisations) in court. The work includes:

• talking to other professional people such as solicitors, surveyors, accountants and architects who consult them on behalf of their clients
• giving a legal written opinion - for example, giving advice as to whether a case would be successful if taken to court
• researching similar cases to the one that they are advising on
• reading law reports and witness statements to prepare for a court case
• representing clients in court, by presenting the facts of the case to the judge and jury, cross-examining witnesses and summing up
• using computers for research, report writing and record keeping.

The amount of time they spend in court depends on the particular area of law they decide to specialise in. The main areas of work are:

• Chancery - wills, trusts, estates, taxation and company law.
• Common law - criminal, contract, family laws and torts. Those who specialise in criminal work probably spend a lot of their time in court.
• Commerce and industry - giving general legal advice or specialising in areas like employment law.
• Central and local government - clients are civil servants, ministers, and council staff, elected members or councillors.
• Crown Prosecution/Procurator Fiscal work includes lots of court work conducting prosecutions on behalf of the police.

What type of hours will I have to work?

Barristers/advocates often work long hours, including evenings and weekends. It might be necessary to prepare a case or a written opinion at short notice. They might also have to attend evening court sessions.

A considerable amount of time can be spent travelling.

Most barristers work in offices, which are called chambers. They may have their own office or share with one or more other barristers. In London, most chambers are in the Inns of Court; in other areas they are near to court buildings.

Advocates are members of the Advocates' Library in Edinburgh, where they work in groups called stables. Occasionally, barristers and advocates may work at home or in rented offices.

Barristers/advocates working for large companies or the government tend to work in offices with other members of the legal team.

What level of salary and benefits are there?

These figures are purely for guidance only. Salaries may vary for the area the job is situated in, age, experience along with a host of other factors:

• During pupillage, most barristers receive around £10,000 a year. Some may get as much as £20,000.
• Practising barristers/advocates are self-employed. A few top barristers earn over £1 million - the majority earn between £19,000 and £260,000.
• Employed barristers/advocates receive a salary. In the Crown Prosecution Service, income can vary between £21,506 and £55,088; in the Procurator Fiscal Service, from £22,000 to £52,300.

What type of skills will I need?

You will need to have some or all of the following type of skills to carry out this job:

• a high level of academic ability and a good memory
• excellent spoken communications skills
• confidence
• good interpersonal skills, to deal effectively with a wide range of clients
• to be able to think logically
• physical and mental stamina
• good presentation skills
• to be discreet - much information needs to be kept confidential
• to be able to avoid becoming emotionally involved in distressing cases.

What type of training will I receive?

Training to become a barrister/advocate is a very competitive and often costly process. At each stage of training there are more applicants than places, and once qualified it can be hard to secure a tenancy in chambers.

Career Progression:

After 10 to 15 years' experience advocates/barristers may apply 'to take silk' (become a Queen's Counsel) which is necessary to become a Court of Session judge or High Court judge.

Barristers may also become legal advisers in magistrates' courts. Advocates may become sheriffs. Sometimes advocates/barristers move into senior positions in industry and commerce.

Are there similar types of job or related industries?

Yes, this list is not exhaustive but see the following categories:

Advocates' Clerk (Scotland)
Barristers' Clerk (England and Wales)
Court Usher
European Commission Official
Legal Executive
Probation Officer
Procurator Fiscal (Scotland)

Where can I find further information?

Association of Magistrates' Courts, 185 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5QB. 020 7723 1975. Website:

The Bar Association for Commerce, Finance and Industry, PO Box 3663, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 2FH. 01344 868752. Website:

The Faculty of Advocates, The Clerk of Faculty, Advocates' Library, Parliament House, High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1RF. 0131 260 5636. Website:

The General Council of the Bar, Education and Training Department and Video Conferencing, 2/3 Cursitor Street, London EC4 INE. 020 7440 4000.

Websites: and

The Crown Prosecution Service, Personnel Branch, 50 Ludgate Hill, London EC4M 7EX. 020 7796 8000. Website:

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Crown Office, 25 Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LA. 0131 2262626. Website:

The Law Society of Northern Ireland, Law Society House, 98 Victoria Street, Belfast BT1 3JZ. 028 9023 1614. Website:

The Law Careers Advice Network - a partnership of the professional bodies and all those involved in the provision of careers advice to students seeking to enter the legal profession. Website:

What trade magazines are available for this industry?

All of the following magazines and journals can be purchased from any good bookstore:

Careers in the Law - Kogan Page.

Other Useful Advocate Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Advocate job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Advocate Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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