The legal profession and other sources of advice and funding The legal profession consist of two main branches: barristers and solicitors. These branches of profession are the traditional ‘lawyer’ and have rights of audience ( to appear in court) and speak on behalf of their clients in court. There also legal executives who are usually specialist employees of solicitors. A legal executive does not have the same rights of audience as a solicitor or barrister. The Bar Council is the professional body for barristers in England and Wales. It is responsible for regulating barristers for example by setting entry qualifications and discipline. Barristers of at least ten years standing may apply to become Queen’s Council. They undertake work of an important nature, and are referred to as ‘silks’. Solicitors can now also apply to be a QC: the appointment of a QC is often seen as a stepping stone to applying to be a judge. These senior lawyers are made QC’s as recognition of their outstanding ability. Honorary Qc’s- appointments of people who do not intend to practice in the courts as a QC but whose work in the law is deemed to deserve recognition.
There are three stages to becoming a barrister. The stages are: the academic stage, the vocational stage and pupillage. Academic stage: This sets the minimum educational requirement for becoming a barrister. This is a qualifying degree in law at the minimum of 2:ii which is set out by the Bar Council and the Law Society, as required by the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990. If a persons degree is in a subject other than law, or does not comply with the requirements for a law degree, a one year conversion course must be completed. Which is either the Common Professional Examination ( CPE) or an approved Graduate Diploma in Law ( GDL) course. Before starting the vocational stage a person must join one of the four Inns of Court: Lincoln’s Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and the Gray’s Inn. The Inns are societies that provide various activities and support for barristers and student barristers. The Inns alone have the power to call a student to the bar. The bar vocational course is the main part of the vocational stage of qualifying as a barrister. The purpose of the Bar vocational course is to ensure that students intending to become barristers acquire the skills and knowledge of procedure and evidence that will be required for the more specialised training in pupillage. The final stage is pupillage. Here the pupil barrister undertakes practical training under the supervision of an experiences barrister. Pupillage is divided into two parts: non practising for 6 months, pupils shadow and work with their supervisor barrister. During the second 6 months pupils with their supervisors permission can carry out legal services and have rights of audience in court. There is great competition for pupillage, and so a mini pupillage is a good starting point. A short period of work experience ( 1 or 2 weeks) in a set of chambers. All applicants to the bar are advised to undertake at least one mini pupillage by the Bar Standards Board. Training
Once a person has successfully completed the Bar Vocational Course, he can be called to the bar. As with most professions there is a requirement for continuing training and updating. Barristers need to update and develop specialist areas of knowledge and improve their skills. The Bar Standards Board has set up an Education and Training Committee which is responsible for setting the standards of education and training that people must pass before being able to practise as barristers, together with the further training requirements that barristers must comply with throughout their careers. In the first 3 years a barrister must complete 45 hours of continuing professional development After the first 3 years of practise, barristers are required to undertake 12 hours of continuing professional development each year under the...
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