Becoming a Barrister

Meet barristers and MLS alumni James Waters (JD 2012), Jennika Anthony-Shaw (JD 2012) and Daniel Nguyen (LLB 2009) who answer some of your most frequently asked questions about becoming a barrister and life at the Victorian Bar.

How to become a barrister

These videos touch on the necessary steps to become a barrister, the different pathways and what to expect from the Bar Entrance Exam.

  • What is a barrister?

    Barristers are independent, specialist advocates who are trained to appear in a courtroom, in commissions of inquiry and in alternative forms of dispute resolution. Barristers may also provide objective advice on particular legal problems for clients, solicitors, businesses and governments. Barristers act as mediators and arbitrators as well as conducting other dispute resolution processes.

    For more information download the Victorian Bar’s 'Becoming a barrister' brochure.

  • How do I become a barrister?
    • You need a law degree or juris doctor qualification from university
    • You need to complete practical legal training and then be admitted to 'practise' as a lawyer. This means that you are a qualified legal practitioner and you can choose to work as either a barrister or a solicitor.
    • To become a barrister, you then need to spend 9 months in training, called 'reading'
    • For part of the reading period, you will enrol in the training course for barristers (called 'Bar Readers' Course'). If you pass, you are entitled to work as a barrister (your name and signature will appear on the 'Roll of Counsel' of the Victorian Bar, which means you are a barrister). Then you can accept briefs!
    • For the remainder of the reading period you can work on your own, but you will have another barrister who will help you learn about the job and shares his or her chambers with you until you are ready to go out on your own.

    In this video, you can learn more about the steps as well as ways to seek advice about becoming a barrister.

  • When did you decide that you’d like to become a barrister?

    Other than the compulsory education and accreditation steps there is no ‘one’ path to becoming a barrister. James Waters (JD 2012) worked as a solicitor, Daniel Nguyen (LLB 2009) as a judges associate and Jennika Anthony-Shaw (JD 2012) as a researcher at the Supreme Court of Victoria.

  • When is a good time to come to the Bar?

    In short, there is no perfect time to come to the Bar. However, it is recommended you work for at least 18 months first. This is so you can make connections and see whether litigating at the bar is the path you want to follow.

  • What is the Bar Entrance Exam and how do you prepare?

    To become a barrister, you must successfully complete an entrance exam and meet the eligibility requirements in order to undertake the Bar Readers' Course. The exam assists in ensuring that a high standard of legal skill and knowledge is maintained within the profession. The key areas examined are Civil and Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Ethics. For more information visit the Victorian Bar website.

    In this video, barristers share their experience of the Bar Entrance Exam and how to prepare.

  • What advice do you have for students who want to become a barrister?

    If you would like to get in touch with James, Jennika or Daniel, please email the Careers Team.

Life as a barrister

These videos shed light on life at the Bar, what the working life of a barrister is like, the work culture at chambers and some of the most challenging aspects of being a barrister.

  • What are barristers' chambers?

    A barrister's office is referred to as Chambers. The Victorian Bar's central administration is located in the Owen Dixon Chambers with many other sets of Chambers in the surrounding vicinity.

  • What does a typical day look like for you?

    Like most roles, there is no such thing as a typical day. For barristers, it varies depending on the area of practice the barrister is working in, the jurisdiction the brief is in, and the seniority and experience of the barrister.

  • How would you describe the work culture at chambers?
  • What has been the most challenging aspect of being a barrister?
  • Do you have to be a barrister to become a judge?