What is a criminal barrister’s salary in the UK? | The Sun

What is a criminal barrister’s salary in the UK? | The Sun

June 27, 2022

THE image of a criminal barrister is that of a wealthy lawyer but for many this is not the truth.

Criminal barrister's salaries vary widely, with some taking home less than minimum wage each year, sparking strike action.

What is a criminal barrister’s salary in the UK?

Mirroring the experience of many professionals, those at the top of the tree can make millions while those starting out earn much less.

According to The Lawyer, the top 2 per cent of barristers can earn over £1million per year.

Positions such as Queen's Counsel (QC) barrister command high pay as they are seen as leaders in the legal field.

By stark comparison, junior barristers may not even reach a £20k take home per year.

In 2020, 11.9 per cent of barristers earned under £30k and around a quarter of them were earning under £60k.

The Lawyer points out that this is the pay before deductions such as chambers’ rent, clerks’ fees, tax and VAT, travel costs, insurance, and compulsory CPD programmes.

Junior barristers cannot afford to continue in the bar, unless supported another income source.

Why are criminal barristers striking?

The strikes taking place outside the Old Bailey focus is on legal aid funding, which is provided by the government for people unable to pay for representation.

Legal aid covers the earnings of criminal barristers, who have seen their real take-home cut by 28 per cent.

Jo Sidhu QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) said that some junior barristers were taking home just £12,200 per year – which puts them below the minimum wage.

In one year, 40 per cent of junior barristers left the bar, while about 300 specialist criminal barristers quit in the past five years.

Dominic Raab released a statement ahead of the strikes which read: “It’s regrettable that the Criminal Bar Association is striking, given only 43.5 per cent of their members voted for this particular, most disruptive, option.

“I encourage them to agree the proposed 15 per cent pay rise, which would see a typical barrister earn about £7,000 more a year.

"Their actions will only delay justice for victims.”

More than 81% of the 2,055 CBA members who cast their vote supported industrial action, and 53.4% of those also voted to refuse new cases and "return work".

For those on the lowest wages, cited by Jo Sidhu, a 15 per cent rise would boost their pay by around £2,000 per year, which is still below the minimum wage for anyone over 21.

Chris Daw, barrister and author, told the BBC that this offer would "barely touch the sides" and would be "wiped out by inflation".

He said the strikes could go into August "or beyond", which is a concern when the courts already have around 58,271 cases as a backlog.

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The strikes begin with walkouts on Monday, 27 June and Tuesday, 28 June.

They will increase by one day each week until a five-day strike from Monday, 18 July to Friday, 22 July.

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