The first stage in becoming a barrister of criminal law in the United Kingdom is an academic degree.
Degree The student has a choice between studying for an undergraduate Law degree or a degree in another academic subject. Neither choice will put the student at a disadvantage later in their career. As long as the degree course is an academic subject, an undergraduate degree in Law is not compulsory for an aspiring lawyer. GDL However, those with an undergraduate degree in a subject other than Law will need to spend a year studying for the GDL. The GDL is a law conversion course and stands for the Graduate Diploma in Law. This course is not just about legal knowledge and learning case reports, but students also learn how to put said knowledge into practice. The entry requirement for this course is usually a 2:2 in your undergraduate degree, although this will vary across the different institutions offering the course. Bar Vocational Course Upon completion of the Graduate Diploma in Law, the next step is becoming a barrister. To become a barrister, the student must complete the Bar Vocational Course. This course is for people who wish to become practicing barristers in England and Wales. Duration The course lasts for one year if the student is enrolled on a full-time basis, or three years if the student decides that they would rather enroll on a part-time basis. Aim The course aims to bridge the gap between the academic study of Law and the practical work required for such a career choice. Usually, the student must study particular core modules alongside a few optional modules, depending on the institution in which they study.
The final stage to becoming a fully qualified barrister is the pupillage. This lasts for a year and during this year the student must spend two periods of six months at a time, shadowing fully qualified barristers. Through the pupillage, the student has the opportunity to watch their mentor carrying out their job on a day to day basis, seeing for themselves rather than just reading law reports and articles.
After completion of the pupillage, the student is now a barrister and is free to specialise in their chosen area of Law.