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Entry and training for barristers in Northern Ireland

22 Jun 2023, 13:21

The steps you must take before you are called to the Bar.

Entry and training for barristers in Northern Ireland

Qualification in Northern Ireland also takes the structure of the academic, professional/vocational and traineeship stages.

Vocational stage

The Honorable Society of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland is the professional body which governs the education, training and admittance of barristers in NI. This responsibility is partly delegated to the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, a part of Queen’s University Belfast. The Institute of Professional Legal Studies is responsible for training barristers and solicitors in Northern Ireland. The Institute offers a oneyear, full-time postgraduate vocational training course for trainee barristers. Bar trainees must spend four weeks working in a citizens’ advice bureau or law centre and one week shadowing a barrister prior to starting their certificate course. The Institute admits 20 Bar trainees each year. Pressure for places is intense and competitive, though unsuccessful applicants often successfully re-apply the following year. A pilot scheme allowing six Bar trainees to take the course after a two-year period is currently running. Visit the Institute of Professional Legal Studies website for more information. Applicants must hold a recognised law degree. Core subjects must include: constitutional law, criminal law, contract, tort, land law, equity, evidence and European law. Applicants must sit a written admissions test in mid-December, which is the same admissions test as solicitor applicants. The application deadline is mid-November. Students may apply for the Bar and solicitor trainee courses at the same time, but must indicate their order of preference. Bar and solicitor trainees largely receive the same training, with some small modifications. It is essential for Bar trainees to apply for admittance to the Inn of Court before starting the course.


All newly qualified barristers must spend a minimum of 12 months training with an experienced barrister and must complete at least six months of pupillage before taking a brief on their own. The barrister assists and learns from their Master in the same way as in the ROI.

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