The life of a Victorian Barrister at the Vic Bar

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Published: 11th November 2010
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One of the most prestigious and rewarding careers for a Victorian legal practitioner is to work as a barrister at the Vic Bar. Covering the full gamut of Settlement, Arbitration and mediation services, it is no surprise that the Vic Bar attracts some of the most talented and diverse lawyers in the State.

The process for joining the Vic Bar is straightforward – anyone who has completed a law degree and is admitted to practice in Victoria must enroll in the bar reader’s course (which is offered twice per year). On admission to the Vic Bar, barristers may appear in the Victorian Supreme Court, District, Family or County Court. Barristers may also appear in the High Court and Federal Court when they have been appropriately admitted.

Once the Vic bar reader’s course has been completed, Victorian barristers generally operate as a sole practitioner based in their own Chambers (or offices), providing legal advice or appearing in court. In some larger cases, senior barristers will work together with a Junior Counsel on particular litigious matters. As a mark of seniority at the Vic Bar, barristers may achieve the title of Queen’s Counsel (QC) or Senior Counsel (SC). These are prestigious titles reserved for some of the Vic Bar’s most talented legal advisors.

Chambers or barrister’s offices are located throughout Victoria. They are the offices for Victorian barristers and are different from traditional law firm offices in that they contain groups of freelance legal practitioners who, despite being in competition with one another, prefer to sustain their work from single premises or offices as part of teams for increased practicality. By operating in this way, Victorian barristers can share business expenses and resources such as rent, secretarial services and library facilities equally among them. More importantly, members of the Vic bar can build relationships and learn from the experience of more senior barristers on challenging legal issues.


Due to the huge number of cases brought forward in states like New South Wales and Victoria, barristers often turn to competent clerical services to assist them in their daily operations. Clerks deliver managerial assistance, as well as deal directly with clients, solicitors, court officials, media organisms and the public. Nowadays, access to a Victorian barrister is sometimes only possible via a clerk – a system that allows the legal practitioner to dedicate himself entirely to his/ her work.         

Clerks are also in charge with handling administrative details inside the barrister group, such as marketing, electronic mail, keeping evidence of Court lists, receiving telephone calls, bookkeeping, and accounting. If you need to hire the services of a Victorian barrister but are unsure whether he/ she is the right choice for you, consider talking to the clerk first or access the Internet and get the information you need from the pages of a dedicated directory.  

While a large portion of a Victorian barrister’s day is spent in the court room in front of a judge, these members of the Vic bar also act as arbitrators and mediators. Throughout Australian courts, it is a generally recognized trend that in the interests of saving time and money on appearance costs, barristers work to settle claims out of court where possible. The Victorian bar is no exception – it is a growing trend to see Victorian barristers honing their skills in out of court negotiation and mediation. As a result, a large number of civil claims conclude before making it to trial.

Working as a barrister at the Vic bar can be extremely challenging – the variety of clients, cases, briefs, trials and legal issues is extensive. To meet these challenges, successful barristers develop their professional skills and expertise in a range of areas and can provide effective legal advice to clients in a clear and concise way. Indeed, clarity, objectivity and pragmatism are qualities that Victorian barristers usually exhibit. Some would argue that those that achieve the title of QC or Silk (another name for an SC) have to exhibit each of these qualities in spades.

Barristers also deal with people and real issues that affect people’s lives. Whether in a criminal or civil trial, some of the challenges faced by a barrister’s client can be very confronting. It takes a unique skill, more than that of simple negotiation, mediation, arbitration or technical legal advice to work in this challenging legal environment.


 Barristers from all States and Territories of Australia, can be easily recognized in all levels of the court system by the distinctive outfit comprised of the traditional black robe and horsehair wig. 


For more resources about Vic Bar or about Victorian Bar or even about Melbourne Barrister, please review these links.

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