How to transfer to the Bar as a current legal professional

May 20, 2023

Transferring to the Bar is not a straight-forward route, and everyone has different journeys to becoming a barrister, including those who are already qualified legal practitioners.

During 2021-22 the Bar Standard Board (BSB) received 325 fully completed applications to transfer to the Bar of England and Wales, reflecting that people at various stages of their lives can be interested in joining the Bar. There can be numerous reasons as to why lawyers would transfer to the Bar, such as the independence that you can get when being a barrister (as the majority of barristers are self-employed), the advocacy and skills you can gain or you get to enjoy (such as presenting in court), and the opportunity to work closely with the law (intellectually-stimulating).

To join the Bar:

  1. Qualified lawyers will have to apply to the BSB.
    • The board considers your experience and qualifications, which could exempt you from some or all of the requirements for practicing at the Bar, but some of these exemptions may be granted subject to passing an academic and/or vocational component assessment as a Bar Transfer Test (BTT) candidate.
    • There are application fees depending on the type of application.
    • For more information, and for the application, check out this link. 
  2. Make an application to BPP University Law School (currently the only approached learning provider of the BTT), delivered on behalf of the BSB, for Registration and Examination after receiving approval from BSB.
    • For more about the BTT, click here: BTT.
  3. Pass examinations and join one of the Inns of Court.
    • All 4 Inns accept transferred lawyers (Gray’s Inn, Inner Temple, Lincoln’s Inn, Middle Temple). You can find more information on each of the Inns’ webpages, which includes how to make an application to the Inn.
  4. Apply and undertake a pupillage or work-based learning, unless exempt.
    • You may also be required to complete a new Professional Ethics assessment during your pupillage.
  5. Get Called to the Bar
    • This is done through the Inns of Courts at various times during the year. You can find more information on each of the Inns’ webpages, which includes how to make an application to the Inn.

For further information, including the rules and requirements relating to transferring as a qualified lawyer and the BTT, you can find more information here: Part 7 of the Bar Qualification Manual.

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