Article: Solicitors Transferring to the Bar

Article: Solicitors Transferring to the Bar

This article from Siân Waldron has been published as we are encouraging applications for tenancy from practising civil or family law Solicitors seeking to transfer to the Bar. We are currently recruiting tenants at all levels of call/PQE.

At KCH Garden Square we pride ourselves on being a progressive, diverse and inclusive set. We currently have several tenants within our team who have transferred to the Bar. With our support, they have all developed successful practices, within a relatively short period of time.

We appreciate that lawyers may seek to transfer to the Bar for a variety of reasons: solicitors may want the majority of their work to be court advocacy, they may seek to specialise in their area of law so that they can appear in court on lengthier and more complex cases, or they may seek the flexibility of self-employed practice. This list is not exhaustive.

We recognise the benefits of welcoming transferring lawyers into our team. Many will have been appearing in cases at all levels of court, for a significant period of time, and will have a wealth of advocacy experience. We acknowledge that the skills required to enjoy a successful career in a competitive law firm are relevant and transferrable to the Bar, and enable those joining us to hit the ground running.

What is the process for transferring to the Bar?

It may seem daunting, particularly for those who have been solicitors for a long time, but it is relatively straightforward. We suggest the following:

  • The first step is to consider the helpful guidance available on the Bar Standards Board website on ‘Transferring Lawyers’;
  • The BSB guidance explains that depending on qualifications and experience, solicitors may be exempt from some or all of the training requirements (including the requirement to undertake a period of pupillage);
  • In order to find out whether a solicitor is exempt from any of the training requirements, an application form can be submitted to the BSB. The application form is available on the BSB website, along with guidelines on completing it. There is a fee of £440 to apply;
  • Once the application has been considered, the BSB will confirm exactly which training requirements must be completed;
  • If an exemption from the requirement to complete a period of pupillage does not apply, there may be allowance for the pupillage to take place over a shorter period of time (for example 6 months instead of the usual 12);
  • The rules and requirements can be found in Part 7 of the Bar Qualification Manual, which is also available on the BSB website.

At what stage should you apply to join KCH Garden Square?

We would encourage a discussion with us at the earliest opportunity, so that we can support you through the process of transferring, and ensure that you are ready to start practising at the Bar, as soon as you are authorised to do so. We recognise that this process may take some time, and you may continue to work as a solicitor during this period. We assure you that any discussions we have with you during this time, and any support we provide, will be offered confidentially and discreetly.

How do we promote and support solicitors who have joined our team after transfer?

We do this in a variety of ways, including:

  • Having a professional practice development team who understand and respect the post qualification experience and specialist knowledge of each new tenant. The clerks work hard to secure cases which are commensurate with the experience and skills each tenant gained before they joined the team. Transferring to chambers does not mean going back to square one. The clerks will work with you to promote your practice;
  • Having a dedicated practice development committee, which functions to ensure that every tenant is developing their practice as they seek to. This includes practical support and guidance with judicial appointment applications, applications for professional rankings,
  • Attending training events;
  • Having a dedicated administrative team who can assist with the practical tasks each new tenant faces, such as immediate access to IT, library and subscription services;
  • Having progressive policies which go above and beyond our legal requirements. In particular, new tenants who seek to work part-time are encouraged to apply and will be supported;
  • Having an attitude in chambers that every tenant is equal, so new tenants are treated the same as those who have been practising at KCH Garden Square for a long time;
  • Having a welcoming and collegiate team who support each other. This has been invaluable to those joining chambers who have sought help and guidance on their cases, or with specific issues;
  • On a lighter note, we are also a sociable and friendly team, and there is often opportunity to attend Circuit events or training courses with colleagues in the team.

Our aim is to encourage and support every tenant to fulfil their potential, whether they have joined the Bar in the traditional way, or have transferred from a law firm. We would love to welcome new members to our developing and ambitious team. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss your options, or seek to apply.

Siân Waldron

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