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Barrister


Description

Barristers are the lawyers who go to court. These are the trial lawyers in American law practices, who take care of some of the office work and most of the courtroom work. These are the lawyers who represent people in both civil and criminal cases.

Civil cases are non-criminal, and barristers rarely go to court over these. Barristers would negotiate with other lawyers and their clients in their offices over personal injury lawsuits, divorces, contract and labor disputes, and estate work.
However, when a barrister's client breaks the law (or is accused of breaking the law) through acts of theft, murder or arson, then the barrister will most likely have a fight in court on their hands. This involves research into past trials and cases, reviewing evidence, meeting with witnesses, visiting their clients in their offices, or prison, and presenting the case effectively in court.

Overall, barristers are the people who keep society moving, and ensure that everyone is protected. They explain the laws to their clients, making sure that the law is being used to the advantage of the people they represent. They arre looking out for their clients' best interests, and use their powers of persuasion and vast knowledge of the law to swing a case their way.

Barristers work most often in private practices, and large and small firms. If a barrister doesn't want to work in a private practice, there is also the option of working for the government, or as a public defender.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
Barristers need to be computer-literate, analytical and level-headed. They should be calm, able to deal effectively with stress, and to think logically and come up with good solutions on the spot, especially when dealing with witnesses or other lawyers in court. They should be ethical, moral, believe in the importance of justice, and be willing to work hard to see it done.

A barrister needs to be trustworthy, and a sensitive, concise communicator. They should be able to negotiate with many types of people, and be tactful, firm and respectful even if during tense and heated arguments. Barristers need to be articulate, have good enunciation, and able to speak loudly, clearly and with emotion. They need to be comfortable working in front of others. They also must have excellent memories, and be able to call up details and past events while advising and representing clients.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Advise clients of their legal rights in different areas of law
  • Research past cases
  • Interview witnesses
  • Plead clients' cases before courts of law, tribunals and boards
  • Draw up legal documents, such as wills and divorces
  • Negotiate settlements
  • Act as executor, trustee or guardian in estate and family law matters
  • Represent clients at meetings or negotiations
  • Oversee the details of private practice
  • Every day of work will involve meeting with clients, as well as with other lawyers with whom you are negotiating. An average week will have evenings and weekends off, however, if a case is particularly difficult, they might find themselves working longer hours. They may get to travel, depending on the case they are involved in, but most often work will be done in the office, and, when necessary, in court. Court sessions could take only a few hours, but some could go on for days, and they need to be alert, prepared, and ready for anything. If they are working on a court case, meetings with witnesses and clients may be held in correctional facilities or hospitals.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Barristers' work environments depend on where they work. If they work in a practice or firm, they might work for hourly wage, or for a cut of the settlement (in civil cases). Working for a cut is better, because you can schedule your work to fit the case; hourly work usually means long hours, both in the office and at home. Regardless, a lawyer will spend many hours drafting briefs, researching cases, and keeping up with the legal profession. The days will be longer if a lawyer has little or no staff to do the research and keep them informed. When lawyers work in criminal cases, they may need to work with their clients in prisons.
  • During the first few formative years of their careers, barristers will most likely not take many holidays or days off. Their work may or may not include travel, depending on the case and their clients' needs.

  Long Term Career Potential  
There are many options for barristers today. They can start a practice, join an established firm, work as a prosecutor or advisor for the government, or choose to represent businesses, not-for-profit groups, or health and education centers.
Barristers who choose to work in a firm might move up the ladder, eventually becoming a senior partner. Some move on to become judges, department heads in the government, or find work as government diplomats. Some barristers go on to teach, write or tour as lecturers; others still might choose to advise producers making lawyer shows for television and film.
 

  Educational Paths  
Aspiring barristers will need some undergraduate studies at a university, just how much depends on the law school you plan on attending. Some programs require only 10 completed courses, while some require a full degree.

But before you can even apply to law school, you must write the LSAT, a test which determines your aptitude. Depending on your LSAT score and university grades, you are now eligible to complete the three year law degree program. Once there, you can specialize in the area of law you want to study and practice, in this case, criminal and civil law.

After graduating from the law program, it will take about a year to complete your apprenticeship, or "articling", at a law office or government court house. After this, individuals have to pass a bar exam to become a licensed lawyer.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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