What they do
Barristers provide legal advice and represent clients in negotiations and court proceedings. They research the laws and past cases (precedents) that are relevant to a particular case in order to present the strongest case for their client and add weight to their arguments. Barristers may also write legal documents, such as contracts, on behalf of their clients. Barristers work mostly on specialist legal matters in an advisory capacity, appearing in finery and representing litigants in court. Traditionally, only barristers could act as advocates in courts.
Specialisations include: Senior counsel
Barristers work in offices, and courts and tribunals throughout Western Australia - although the majority work in the Perth metropolitan area.
They generally operate as individuals, out of chambers in cities or large suburban centres. They have access to the courts and specialise in particular areas of the law e.g. Family Law. They work on extensive and complex legal issues.
A barrister’s work hours can be long and may include evenings and weekends, particularly when working to tight deadlines and preparing a case.
Tools and technologies
Barristers consult extensive law libraries, containing detailed records of past cases (precedents) and the resulting decisions, which can help strengthen a case. They must also be familiar with more specific legislation, unlike solicitors who deal with a wider scope of legal matters. Many of the documents that barristers refer to use very specific language and terms that may not be common in everyday usage, including some Latin phrases. In addition to this reference material, barristers also use standard office equipment, including computers, photocopiers, faxes and dictaphones.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a barrister, you usually need to study a degree in law.
Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
Required registration and licensing
To work as a barrister in Western Australia, you will need to complete Practical Legal Training as specified by the Legal Practice Board of Western Australia. You must then apply to the Supreme Court for admission as a lawyer. Contact the Legal Practice Board of Western Australia for more information.