Skip to content

How Much Do Criminal Barristers Earn?

Criminal Barristers are barristers that have chosen to specialise in criminal cases. They spend a lot of time in the courtroom doing advocacy work - far more than a barrister who has chosen to specialise in other elements such as common law or commercial law.

Criminal Barristers go through a training period, which is called the pupilage. This is the final stage of their training before they take their Bar test. The Bar Standards Board requires that trainees are paid at least £12,000 per year when they are going through this training. There can, because of the nature of bar work, be a substantial delay between the work being done and their pay being sent.

Once qualified, salaries start at £25,000 - but there is a massive variation between local areas and even courts. A person who is self employed in an area with a low cost of living could see pay in that lower region, but someone in a more affluent area could be earning as much as £300,000 a year. After working for ten years, salaries for the highest profile barristers in other specialisations can be a lot more. Barrister Michael Wolkind is an example of someone on the higher end of that scale.

A barrister who opts not to be self employed, but to work for the CPS, can expect to enjoy salaries of between £30,000 at the entry level, and £90,000 for someone who is more experienced.

The work of a barrister involves representing people in court, and also giving them legal advice. Typically, barristers are hired by solicitors, but it is possible for an individual to cut out the middle man and come straight to a barrister. If someone cannot afford to hire their own legal representatives, then they may be appointed one by the courts.

Working as a barrister requires a good knowledge of case law, patience, and attention to detail. Criminal cases can be stressful, and not every case is going to be a win. Sometimes a barrister will be negotiating to get the sentence that a person is awarded reduced, or even advising them that they may be better off negotiating before the case reaches the courtroom.

Getting started as a barrister is difficult - even entering the law programmes requires a good degree, and the courses are hugely competitive. After earning a degree, candidates spend either one year full time or two years part time on the Bar Training Programme before doing their pupilage.