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A Day in the Life of a Barrister

22 September 2021

A Day in the Life of a Barrister: Clients and Crown Court

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Ever wondered what a career in criminal law is really like? We sat down with Rhys Rosser, a criminal barrister at 2 Bedford Row in London, to find out. 

Of all the branches of law, criminal law is perhaps the most well known. 

There are countless popular culture depictions of criminal law proceedings, whether it be in films, TV shows or books, and barristers are always at the centre of the action. 

But are these depictions accurate? What is a day in the life of a barrister really like? And how do you decide if it’s the right career path for you? 

To help you answer these questions, we sat down with Rhys Rosser, a barrister at 2 Bedford Row Criminal Barristers Chambers in London, to get a better understanding of what his day-to-day job entails. 

Rhys practises in a range of criminal and quasi-criminal areas. Across his career, he has worked on a variety of serious offences, including murder, armed robbery, GBH, people trafficking and multi-million pound conspiracies to defraud. Since specialising in motoring law, Rhys has represented several famous sports people and celebrities. 

If you’re considering a career in law and want an inside look at the profession, read on...

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What does a typical day in your working life look like?

As a criminal barrister, there is no typical day. 

It can involve going to various courts, meetings or drafting written work. It really doesn’t have a set routine. One of the great things about the job is the variety of people you meet, be they clients or professional colleagues.

What first inspired you to consider law as a career?

I have always enjoyed debating and the law, but I don’t think I can really remember what inspired me to become a lawyer – it’s just something I’ve always wanted to do.

One of the great things about the job is the variety of people you meet, be they clients or professional colleagues.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The variety – no two days are ever the same.

What’s the hardest thing?

Managing workloads. Because you’re self-employed, you end up taking on as much as you want to – but that can sometimes go beyond your own capacity.

What has been your biggest achievement since starting your career in criminal law?

The first time I made a speech to a jury in a Crown Court trial – the defendant was acquitted but I missed the verdict because I was doing another hearing!

What are the perks/incentives, financial and otherwise, for a graduate looking to become a barrister?

The autonomy and the variety – if you’re going to the criminal bar then financial rewards are limited during the early years of your career.

Take opportunities to learn more about the profession and get hands-on experience. [You can then explain] why you want to do something, as well as why other careers aren’t for you.

Are there different pathways or specialisms aspiring barristers can choose, and if so, what are they?

In terms of a legal career, there is first the decision of [whether to be a] barrister or solicitor. There are then a variety of different areas of law you can specialise in.

What did you study at A-level (or equivalent) and why did you choose those subjects?

History, English literature, French and Business Studies – I chose them because those are the ones I thought I would enjoy most. That’s the best advice that can be given about options/degree choices: if you do something you enjoy you’ll invariably get better results.

Did you do anything to improve your employability whilst still at school?

I took part in the Young Enterprise Competition and did a range of public speaking competitions.

What did you study at university?

Law with business.

How did you find your first 12 months after graduating?

I actually worked in corporate banking for the first 12 months – it was quite structured as it was a graduate program. 

My first 12 months as a pupil (trainee barrister) were totally different – it meant going to different places and doing a very wide range of work.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

I do a lot of sport – I feel like I had more hobbies and interests before lockdown!

Do you have any advice for young people thinking about pursuing a career in law?

Take opportunities to learn more about the profession and get hands-on experience. 

[You can then explain] why you want to do something, as well as why other careers aren’t for you.

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