By Stefania Patuto, Immigration Barrister at Richmond Chambers

The majority of barristers are self-employed, with only 18% of barristers in England and Wales being employed. However, there are a number of benefits to being an employed barrister. 

I am currently an employed barrister at Richmond Chambers LLP. In July 2013, Richmond Chambers LLP became the first barrister-only immigration law firm to be authorised in the UK. Because of the way we are set up, we can offer services directly to lay clients, as well as taking instructions from solicitors. 

There are many places to enter the employed bar including the Crown Prosecution Service, the Government Legal Department, the Armed Forces, local government, regulatory bodies and private companies. 

My journey to the employed bar

I started as a Legal Associate (a paralegal type role) at Richmond Chambers in September 2018. I immediately loved working in immigration law, the collaborative working environment, and the direct access system, allowing me to see cases from start to finish. 

I applied for pupillage in 2019, and began my pupillage in September 2019. During my first six, I was able to shadow a number of members of Chambers in different immigration appeals/hearings and completed a lot of drafting of grounds of appeal, skeleton arguments, grounds for judicial review etc. 

I was due to start my second six in March 2020, but of course the pandemic hit and everything was brought to a halt. My pupillage was extended to ensure I had the most beneficial experience possible. Finally, in January 2020, I became an employed barrister at Richmond Chambers LLP. 

Benefits of the Employed Bar

Employers will have different additional benefits, as with any other career, however the general advantages of the employed bar are:

  • Guaranteed monthly salary;
  • Paid annual leave;
  • Paid maternity/paternity/parental leave;
  • Paid sick leave. 

Additional benefits at Richmond Chambers LLP include:

  • Flexible, home and remote working;
  • Practising certificate fee paid;
  • Professional insurance fee paid;
  • CPD training costs paid;
  • Membership of ILPA, EIN and Free Movement paid;
  • Practitioner texts purchased;
  • Pension scheme;
  • Private medical insurance scheme;
  • Interest free season ticket and travel card loans;
  • Cycle to work scheme;
  • Access to employee discounts portal.

At the employed bar, a specialised practise is more common and you are more constrained with the type of work you can take on. Personally, I have enjoyed having such a specialised area of practise in immigration law, but I fully appreciate that this is not for everyone. 

Having completed an extended pupillage and qualifying during the pandemic, knowing I had a set income each month was reassuring. In addition, being able to go on holiday or taking time off due to illness, knowing that I will still be paid, has given me a good work/life balance. My hours are fairly predictable, well as predictable as they can be when working in law! 

Her Bar has written extensively about the issues facing women at the bar, including work life balance and family life. The benefits of employment specifically benefit women who wish to start a family and balance a career, with paid maternity leave, annual leave and sick leave ensuring financial stability. Of course, being employed does not solve every issue facing women at the Bar, but the benefits to women speak for themselves.

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