The Bar | Law

The Bar

Read a Guide to becoming a barrister in New South Wales here.

To become a barrister you must:

-        Be admitted as a lawyer in an Australian jurisdiction

Before you can apply for a NSW barrister's practising certificate, you must be admitted as a lawyer of the Supreme Court of NSW or another Australian state or territory under a corresponding law.

You can go straight to the Bar after University, but it is recommended that you work for at least 18 months first. This is so you can make connections and see if litigating at the bar is the path you want to follow.

-        Pass the NSW Bar examination

The NSW Bar Exam is offered twice a year, and as of 2016, the three subjects (legal ethics for barristers, aspects of evidence, and practice and procedure for barristers) are examined in one integrated NSW Bar Examination. It is necessary to pass this examination before commencing the Bar Practice Course.

-        Apply for an Australian practising certificate. There are conditions attached for readers.

The application form can be found here.

The conditions for readers can be found here.

-        Complete the Reading Program

When a lawyer is issued with an initial practising certificate with reader conditions, he or she is termed a 'reader'. The reader embarks on the Reading Program, which has two major elements, the Bar Practice Course and reading with a tutor.

Bar Practice Course

The Bar Practice Course must be undertaken within 15 months of passing the Bar examination. The course fee is $3,800.00. It is a very intensive course involving advocacy training, mock applications (before real judges) and seminars. There is homework and some sessions take place on the weekend. A reader has no right to appear in court without being led by another barrister until the course is completed.

Reading with a tutor

The period of reading is often referred to as a reading year and starts when the practising certificate with reader conditions is issued, and continues for a minimum of 12 months. During that time, the reader remains under the supervision of at least one experienced barrister, who is called a tutor.

It is advisable to apply for a reader’s position at a Barristers’ Chambers, and to do this before signing up for the Bar examination. The Bar Association website has dates and application details.

-        Hold professional indemnity insurance

Professional indemnity insurance is a statutory requirement for all barristers in New South Wales. More information can be found here.