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Jargon busters for aspiring barristers

Jargon busters for aspiring barristers

Christianah B


The legal profession tends to use a lot of jargon, but a good lawyer prides themselves on giving advice in plain English. Thus, to aid aspiring barristers, here are 20 legal words and phrases which barristers commonly use.

Barrister – a lawyer who specialises in advocacy. Barristers usually work in a set of chambers with other barristers, but some are employed by law firms.

Bar school – the informal name for a provider of the BPTC.

Bench – the judge/judges.

Brief – the documents setting out instructions for a barrister to argue a case in court.

Call to the Bar – a formal graduation-style ceremony, in which the head of an inn of court officially entitles a graduate of the BPTC to be called a 'barrister'.

Chambers – where barristers work (also known as a 'set').

Clerk – a chamber's staff member responsible for managing barristers’ diaries.

Counsel – a barrister.

CPS – the Crown Prosecution Service (responsible for the prosecution of criminal offences in England and Wales).

GDL – graduate diploma in law.

Head of chambers – a senior barrister in a set of chambers, appointed as its head.

Marshalling – work experience shadowing a judge.

Mini-pupil – the name given to someone undertaking work experience in a set of chambers.

Moot – a legal debate.

Pupillage – one year of apprenticeship in chambers or another approved organisation.

Qualifying sessions – to qualify to be called to the Bar, prospective barristers must pass the BPTC and attend 12 qualifying sessions at their chosen inn of court.

Silk – an informal term for a ‘QC’ (Queen's Counsel).

Tenancy – towards the end of their pupillage, an individual may be offered a tenancy as a self-employed barrister. 

Tenant – a member of a set of chambers.

Third six – a pupil not invited to become a tenant may be offered a 'third six'.