Coming to the bar
The New South Wales Bar traditionally embraces all comers and there is no common denominator to those who are able to build a successful practice. There are four prerequisites for practising at the bar:
- Admission as a lawyer in an Australian jurisdiction
- Passing the NSW Bar Examination to the required standard
- Complete an application for an Australian practising certificate, with conditions attached
- Completing the Reading Programme
- Professional indemnity insurance
If an Australian lawyer wishes to return to practise at the bar, certain requirements must be met.
Cost of setting up a practice
A barrister's practice is similar to a small business. Usually, there will be little or no income in the first three to six months of practice, but expenses must be paid. Even if a new barrister is lucky enough to obtain work and send out fee notices, payment might not arrive for some time. Readers will need sufficient capital so that they can gain experience in court with his or her tutor, undertake devilling (researching) and observing proceedings in court without payment.
Do I need to have chambers?
The question is often put: 'May I practise from home?' or 'I can't afford chambers. Why do I need to go to such expense?' There is no rule prohibiting practise from home. However, new barristers are strongly advised to obtain accommodation within chambers. The philosophy of the reading period is based on a close tutor/reader relationship, which is greatly facilitated by the proximity of chambers to courts. Furthermore, barristers continually assist one another at all stages of their careers and a new barrister cannot afford to let this valuable, indeed essential (yet free) help pass by.
Chambers for sale or license can be found on our Barristers Classifieds page. Many floors have a reader's room that is made available at minimal cost to one or two readers each year. Some tutors will share accommodation for a period. Readers are advised not to purchase chambers immediately. It's important to keep overheads as low as possible in the first year or two. You have two options.
With the consent of the floor, persons may share a room: the person who owns, leases or licences the room allows another person to share it for a relatively low monthly charge.
Again, with the consent of the floor, a new barrister may 'float'. Floaters take a chance that at any moment of time, one or other room on the floor will be vacant. On a floor where the members go on circuit or do a lot of work in suburban courts, 'floating' can be less disruptive than it sounds.
The Bar Association on request will publish its practising members' contact and admission details on the 'Find a barrister' database
Purchasing court attire
There are several firms where legal attire may be purchased.
- Con Varnavas Classic Tailoring
- Regalia Craft Pty Ltd
- Ludlows Legal Regalia & Tailors
- Raymond W. Bredin & Son Pty Ltd
- Legal Attire
- Tomassetti Tailoring Pty Ltd
- P Blashki & Sons Pty Ltd
Information for indigenous practitioners
For over a decade, the Association has worked to improve the educational path for Aboriginal law students studying at NSW universities and to assist in providing career development opportunities and career prospects for Aboriginal lawyers through the Indigenous Barristers Trust The Mum Shirl Fund. Our primary goal is to increase the number of Aboriginal barristers practising at the NSW Bar. For more information see here.