Coming to the bar

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Prerequisites

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:

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. 

Readers Rooms

In order to assist new readers, the Bar Association publishes Readers Rooms, a page with all the relevant information regarding chambers, such as fees, application dates, selection criteria and contact details.

Professional listing

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.

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.