To ask a barrister how much they earn?

(27 Posts)
Cheesebomble Mon 28-Nov-16 11:09:51

Of course I'm being unreasonable grin

But I reaaaallllly want to know!

I work in the legal industry but amongst solicitors mainly. We deal with barristers regularly and there seems to be such a variation in lifestyle. I know other factors can play a part, obviously, and I know the longer qualified you are the more money you can demand.

So how much (roughly) does a barrister 0 - 5 years PQE working in civil/family earn?

I will add cake to that sum for anyone who answers.

JaneAustinAllegro Mon 28-Nov-16 11:18:17

with barristers, it's years of call rather than PQE. And (particularly in the areas you have selected), it could be anything from £20k upwards. It depends massively on the set, and what kind of family work - someone doing child protection issues likely to earn far less than those doing high profile HNW divorce for eg. "Civil" also covers a multitude of sins. Bear in mind that they are self employed and have to pay rent to their chambers for use of the set and the clerks' services. IWhat you really wan tto do is go over to Rollonfriday.com and ask the question there - it's a real favourite right now!

Cheesebomble Mon 28-Nov-16 11:24:23

How have I never heard of rollonfriday?! I thought MN was bad for having their own language, it's gonna take me a while to decipher the language going on it that forum!

birdladyfromhomealone Mon 28-Nov-16 11:27:16

There is a barrister who lives near me ( I know his wife)
God knows how much he earns but they just bought an Estate for 9 million!!!!

Cheesebomble Mon 28-Nov-16 11:37:18

I'm pretty sure one of the barristers we use is a millionaire, he's holidaying on his boat for Christmas and often mentions his privileged lifestyle. Whereas another barrister in the same set drive a very reasonable car, went to centreparcs this summer and is always chasing his payments as soon as they're due.

birdladyfromhomealone Mon 28-Nov-16 11:54:02

I just googled the barrister near me - he is a QC and works at the Old Baily.
So yes earns a fortune then.

RachelRagged Mon 28-Nov-16 11:57:33

Good work if you can get it .

Crazy money . Saying that though I have no idea of their workload and overtime working on cases etc.

TheSparrowhawk Mon 28-Nov-16 11:57:45

A friend of mine is a barrister. How much you earn depends on a whole load of factors, but basically you're self-employed and have to build a complex business from the ground up using connections, networking etc. She enjoys it but it is very hard. If you're good at it you can earn a lot but if you're not it can be a terrible struggle.

atticusclaw2 Mon 28-Nov-16 11:57:49

QC is likely to be earning half a million upwards if they are working FT. Many don't bother working over the summer though.

Many junior barristers struggle to make ends meet and take on a lot of work that doesn't pay particularly well to get experience. I know a number of barristers (I'm a solicitor) who have had to move down to London to kick start their careers.

mumonahottinroof Mon 28-Nov-16 12:02:10

It depends what kind of barrister. A criminal barrister earns peanuts for a professional around £25k with no sick pay, holiday entitlement, pension etc etc as they're paid via legal aid which is being cut all the time. A barrister in a specialist area i.e. off the top of my head transport law can earn a lot. But he/she will work insanely hard for it

Cheesebomble Mon 28-Nov-16 12:12:32

Specifically family and/or civil (including PI, med neg, housing etc). I know criminal earn peanuts and QCs/niche specialisms earn plenty.

I'm aware of how a barrister works and how it is dependent on several factors but I have never known anyone to just give an actual figure of what they earn. Thought I'd try my luck on here as it's much less cheeky than asking face to face grin

BarristerInDisguise Mon 28-Nov-16 12:18:31

NC for this as I don't usually talk about work on here.

I am a family barrister in the Midlands. 9 years call but 6 years PQE. I have worked approx 3 days a week since returning from mat leave. Last year I earned approx £40k before expenses and tax, which works out to about £26k after. Chambers rent is a fixed fee per month plus a percentage of earnings; different chambers do it in different ways.

A colleague with a couple of years more experience and fewer family commitments earns about £75k.

More senior colleagues earn 6 figures, but that involves serious amounts of evening and weekend work, which I would struggle with as primary carer of young DC.

Cheesebomble Mon 28-Nov-16 12:22:17

Wow, thank you cake

You are the first barrister I have ever known to just say it as it is.

eastegg Mon 28-Nov-16 12:35:24

I was more than happy to tell you when I read the thread title then I was disappointed you wanted to know about civil and family as I do crime!

I'll tell you anyway because all the silly speculation from people who spoke to somebody who knows a QC is annoying.

For a 3 to 4 day week which I've done since having my first child a few years ago, with preparation work in evenings and weekends pushing my working hours to about 40 hours, it nets down after rent to chambers etc to about 25K.

DoNotBlameMeIVotedRemain Mon 28-Nov-16 12:42:23

Totally depends on area of work. Crime family poorly paid, commercial, chancery well paid, general civil in the middle.

Cheesebomble Mon 28-Nov-16 12:44:05

Thank you, eastegg. Why didn't I just ask on here years ago?! grin

It has surprised me that both of you are working reduced days since having kids. It's something that sounds impossible to do when you read up on women working in the industry, most blogs/guides will tell you there's no flexibility and it's very difficult for a woman to raise a family whilst maintaining a work flow.

Thank you for answering, it's really interesting.

emmanuelcant Mon 28-Nov-16 12:48:29

I had a parents meeting with a barrister last week. He sends 5 children to my school. 2 weekly boarding for £35k a year and 3 day children for £18k. His wife doesn't work, the children go on school trips and they appear to have the trappings of wealth.

I'd say they need £220k a year.

JaneAustinAllegro Mon 28-Nov-16 12:53:47

so in short, it's exactly the same as solicitors - it's a catch all title that can mean £25k / year on the high street with a high volume of poorly paid work up to partners in US law firms comfortably earning several million a year. people tend to be so blinded by the title and the wigs that they make a grand assumption that they're all loaded. Very few are ludicrously successful and make millions, but they are the most press friendly / prominent.

Catsize Mon 28-Nov-16 12:57:24

I practise in crime, and as said above, crime does not pay.

We take on average 40% of what is billed. I suspect that my earnings are similar to a school teacher of my age.

Some days, I go to court for £0, with no travel/parking/general expenses paid. Then there are meetings with clients for £0.

There are many late nights/early mornings/cancellations of family and social arrangements etc. No sick or maternity leave. And certainly no holiday leave. Indeed, I have cancelled holidays, or joined my family late where something unexpected has meant a case carrying on longer than expected. And I will always feel bitter about missing most of my daughter's first birthday and the plans we had made.

Oh, and I been discharged by hospitals for medical problems because I have had the audacity to cancel (with notice) more than one hospital appointment.

The 'you're a barrister, you must be earning a bomb' stereotype drives me bonkers. Yes, things are better in civil/family (and I know that is what you asked about!) but not what people assume I suspect. I have been doing this job for 16 years and still run an overdraft most days - sometimes in the £1000s and stress all the time about money - paying tax/VAT bills etc.

So, why do we criminal hacks do it? It is a vocation that you do for the love, not the money. I am probably not exaggerating to say that for most of us it is some sort of calling. The whole system is fascinating, and it is a privilege to delve into the most difficult times in people's lives and speak on their behalf.

x2boys Mon 28-Nov-16 13:02:58

my uncle is a high profile defence QC he earns a lot!!

SovietKitsch Mon 28-Nov-16 13:03:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jdoe8 Mon 28-Nov-16 13:07:50

Friend's sister in london (greys inn) was annoyed when the 50% tax on £150k plus came in.

Then again I know a trainee one who moans about only being on 17k.

TheInternetIsForPorn Mon 28-Nov-16 13:15:32

I worked for a decade as a clerk. It depends on the barrister, year of call, whether they are QC or junior, the type of work they do, whether they are in London or the regions and whether they do predominately private or legal aid work.

For a barrister fully qualified in the north of England at non QC status it could be anything from £40k before tax and costs of being self employed up to £500,000.

To be honest. If you are working predominately on legal Aid cases most Counsel will have found their income drastically reduced in recent years. An awful lot of barristers now earn a normal salary. Higher end. But not ridiculous. And they have no security, variable income, and al the other downsides of self employment.

JaneAustinAllegro Mon 28-Nov-16 13:24:28

for porn - now clerking is a very interesting one... how did you get into it? and how did the barristers treat you? are clerks employed by the chambers or also self employed?

andintothefire Mon 28-Nov-16 13:42:37

At a top commercial set, a barrister at five years call with regular high court trials can probably bill £250k - 300k in a year. Out of that comes about 20% for Chambers fees / rent. There are also non-payers. However it can be equivalent to a salary of around £200k.

At the other end of the scale are civil aid practitioners who will earn no more than about £30k or so at five years call.

Even within the same Chambers, earnings vary wildly! It's very common to have a year with one big trial and high earnings, and then a year when everything seems to settle and so there are weeks on end with little work.

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