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The Oracle

How do I know whether the Bar is right for me?

updated on 22 November 2022

Dear Oracle

I’m considering becoming a barrister, but how do I know whether the Bar is right for me?

The Oracle replies

Reading time: three minutes

Identifying whether the Bar is right for you is tough so it’s important to dedicate time to understanding what life as a barrister actually involves. Unfortunately, the Bar isn’t all courtrooms, cross examining and wigs like a good drama might lead you to believe. Sure, there are numerous personality types that would suit the barrister lifestyle – from the boldest of mooters to those who prefer to quietly prepare for mock trials – however, there are some common character traits that anybody interested in life at the Bar should consider. We’ve highlighted some of the factors you should take into account when thinking about a career as a barrister.

Want to know exactly how to become a barrister? Check out this page from our Barristers hub.


Putting your best foot forward academically is crucial for any legal career but the Bar is well known for valuing intellectual prowess. According to the Bar Standards Board (BSB) the minimum standard for UK/Republic of Ireland undergraduate law degrees for “completion of the academic component” of Bar training is a lower second-class honours (2.2). Ideally, you’d have an upper-second-class honours or first-class degree. Latest research published by the BSB revealed that for UK/EU students, the proportion enrolling on Bar Courses with a first-class degree increased to 31.5% in 2021. Put simply, academics are incredibly important.


Considering whether any profession is right for you is only made easier by experiencing first-hand what that role has to offer. Mini-pupillages are short work shadowing placements offered by barristers’ chambers and can last from one day to a week. Not only are they an essential part of any application to chambers, but they’ll also give you a real understanding of the day-to-day life of a barrister. The work you experience will differs depending on the barrister you’re shadowing, their practice, current cases and their individual character. Either way, it’s a non-negotiable for anybody considering life at the Bar. 

Find out which chambers offer mini-pupillages by using our Pupillage search and how to make the most out of them with this LCN Says.

Practice areas

With this in mind, a mini-pupillage could help you work out what kind of barrister you could see yourself as. Each practice area has its own demands regarding knowledge base, temperament, working practices and pay. The practice area you choose may determine whether life at the Bar is suited to you. For example, if you’re passionate about human rights, working as a specialist criminal barrister might be your calling. Maybe you come from a more scientific background and intellectual property law could give you the chance to put that knowledge to practical use. Knowing what area you want to go into will help you to accept the right pupillage and decide whether the Bar is right for you.

Curious about practice areas? Check out these Barristers’ Practice Area Profiles on LawCareers.Net for insights from practising barristers.

Get stuck in

One word, mooting. Mooting is basically a mock trail and is  great for aspiring barristers to build up their advocacy skills. A moot is a contest in which two opposing pairs of council argue a fictional legal case in front of a ‘judge’. Usually this is a postgraduate student, practitioner or in some cases a literal judge! It’ll give you a taster of how to prepare a case within a tight deadline, engage with public speaking and will also help with your studies.

For more about mooting opportunities, read this LCN Feature.


There are so many opportunities to learn more about becoming a barrister and the Bar. It’s not an easy decision, but we have so many resources to help you decide what’s best for you.

Want to learn more?