In the UK, criminal defence barristers spend a great deal of time in the courts. They work on a wide variety of cases, including road traffic offenses, offenses against a person, sexual offenses, fraud, and others. Barristers work out of offices known as chambers. Some chambers focus on a specific area of specialization within the law, while others will take almost any case on. The decision about the types of cases depends upon the direction the chamber wishes to pursue and the number of barristers working within each chamber.
In criminal law, the primary purpose is to deliver justice. Justice is double-sided. While it is important to provide a good defense for the defendant, it is also important to protect society. An individual engaged in this profession deals with many cases that engage the public interest.
The single most important skill for successful criminal defence barristers is a strong ability to advocate for their clients as well as solid communication abilities. Keep in mind that the barrister must clearly state their case not only to their client, but to the presiding judge, the solicitor, and the jury, as well. To prepare for their professional life, barristers spend additional time studying both argument and the finer points of the law during their education.
Because of the nature of their work, they must be able to endure the realities of criminal activities that most citizens are fortunate enough to avoid seeing. If they cannot come to terms with this part of their job, they are unlikely to remain in the field for long. Crime details may be difficult to stomach.
Because their primary job is to prepare a strong defense, the successful barrister must be able to lead a team. This team may include investigators and researchers. When necessary, they often seek out expert counsel in order to strengthen a case. For this reason, they must be good at networking with members of the community.
Barristers are called upon to draft defense case statements when a criminal case is contested. For this reason, they must develop excellent drafting skills and be able to communicate their ideas in highly analytical arguments. Should they make a mistake in one of these statements, their error may be used against their clients. This necessity to maintain high standards is the reason that skilled barristers are in demand.
Barristers give independent legal advice to solicitors and become actively involved with a case once it goes to court. With recent changes in the law, they now may work directly with a client who bypassed hiring a solicitor. Contrary to popular opinion, the salary for these legal professionals is often not very high since the funds for legal services have been reduced by the government.
Finally, because barristers must understand the finer points of law, they have the potential to become a judge at some point in their career. Depending upon their area of specialization, they may spend more time drafting statements than they spend in court. Since there are many avenues of specialization available, the position attracts a wide variety of people.