Transferring to the Bar and cross-qualifying is a change that often falls hand in hand with moving Chambers. We often see people wanting to change from the solicitors side due to becoming specialist advocates, wanting a sole focus rather than the file and client handling side of things. With all these decisions, it’s all about timing, and individuals will know when it’s right for them to face a new challenge and move to a different environment. Transferring to the Bar and moving Chambers can be a daunting and difficult time and as outlined in our previous blog, it is a decision that requires thought and organisation as well as clear communication throughout the whole process. 

The advantage for solicitors that are considering transferring to the Bar is the attraction of having an exclusive advocacy practice. As Lisa Edmunds (CEO and Senior Consultant Barrister) highlighted on our recent webinar, there are several solicitors she works with where she wonders why they are a solicitor rather than a barrister. Given their level of advocacy, Lisa suspects they would gain far more advantage in terms of professional and personal development if they were to transfer to the Bar. Change can be scary but maybe now is the time for people to think long and hard about adopting a now or never type attitude.

Our Consultant Barrister, Kristine Lidgerwood, recently transferred from a solicitor to a barrister and said, ‘Having joined Unit Chambers as part of a career change from solicitor to barrister, I made my choice based on my knowledge of the quality service provided by our CEO, Lisa Edmunds, to her clients and her own drive to optimise consistent client-focused service through growing a new, modernised organisation.’ If you would like to discuss your options surrounding cross-qualifying and transferring to the Bar, feel free to get in touch with Eve, our Practice Manager, on [email protected]

Of course, given the current climate, solicitors wanting to transfer to the Bar may face new challenges. The family Bar is very busy at the moment, so from this perspective, it’s potentially a good time to jump ship. Moreover, with the way working practices have changed, on the one hand it’s more difficult to interact with people and meet people in the office, however in some ways the new way of working (e.g. remote hearings) makes it easier for people. In a time where law firms are challenged with their own resources, it is as good or a bad time as any. Ultimately, it’s getting your timing right which enables you to capitalise on your opportunities.

On another note, it depends what exemption, if any, you get from pupillage even if you are just transferring over. As a result of the pandemic, a lot of Chambers are not offering pupillage at all. So before you start making announcements, it would be advised to have a plan as to where you would go and confirmation that either pupillage is given to you or you have been exempt from undertaking pupillage through the Bar Council. This is wholly dependent on what your advocacy experience has been to date.

In terms of the challenges, you’ve probably got to look carefully at what advocacy experience you’ve had and what that would mean in terms of exemption. If you’re going to have to do a fairly significant pupillage it may be quite difficult to get a foot in the door largely because of the pandemic. Hopefully over the next few months things start to get back to normal and that will open a few more doors.

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