What is a Barristers’ Clerk?
A barristers’ clerk is responsible for the administrative and business side of barristers’ chambers. As such, they are integral to the efficient running of chambers. The type of work completed often comes with long hours and tight deadlines, therefore it can be demanding.
There are around 1,200 in England and Wales, of which 350 are senior clerks. In most chambers, there is one senior clerk with two or three junior clerks working for 20 barristers. Most work in London, but there is also a considerable number in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Manchester.
What does a Barristers’ Clerk do?
Key responsibilities include negotiating and agreeing on fees for cases (which if, for a top barrister, can bring a huge financial reward), allocating cases to barristers, considering their expertise, specialisms and availability, managing financial accounts, marketing the chambers and organising meetings between clients, barristers and instructing solicitors. There are additional responsibilities for a junior barristers’ clerk including finding statutory and case law materials, taking papers and robes to court as well as delivering documents to other chambers.
Barristers’ Clerk Salaries
Historically, clerks would receive a percentage or commission of the barristers’ fees. Now, starting salaries range from £18,000- to £22,000 and can increase to £35,000 for junior clerks after several years of experience. Senior clerk salaries can range from £40,000 to £80,000 but are dependant on the size of the chambers they in. If clerking for a top barrister, salaries can reach over £100,000. Barristers’ clerks are often given bonus payments, depending on the earnings of the barrister, providing a strong incentive for the clerk.
How to Become a Barristers’ Clerk
You don’t necessarily need a degree to become a barristers’ clerk, but it can sometimes be advantageous. The Institute of Barristers’ Clerks recommends at least 4 9-4 level GCSEs, including maths and English and reasonable attainment at A-level. Work experience is perhaps the most important component of an application, particularly previous experience gained in an administration position and work experience which provides evidence of an applicant’s interest in the law. Once an applicant has found a vacancy, they should apply for membership with the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks, which provides training and networking events.
Words: Holly Porter