Law clerks job? How do barristers distribute cases/CPS

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Chichaldo
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I appreciate that barristers are ultimately independent and will have a group of clients that they represent and advise when needed. However, those in Chambers surely pass cases along where they can't be in two courts at once or feel it is in an area of law beyond their expertise?

Unless anything I have mentioned above is incorrect, do they personally ask other barristers in the Chambers if they can take it on? Or does a senior barrister in the Chamber make a decision as to who is best to deal with such a case - how is this process done?

In regards to the CPS, are the State barristers prosecutors and defence barristers given cases as they come - what kind of process is there to this?

1) Role of clerk
2) Elements of deciding
3) Do clerks require legal training

Any resources that I could look at for the answers would be treat too, couldn't find anything

Thanks in advance ^^
Last edited by Chichaldo; 1 year ago
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Crazy Jamie
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(Original post by Chichaldo)
I appreciate that barristers are ultimately independent and will have a group of clients that they represent and advise when needed. However, those in Chambers surely pass cases along where they can't be in two courts at once or feel it is in an area of law beyond their expertise?

Unless anything I have mentioned above is incorrect, do they personally ask other barristers in the Chambers if they can take it on? Or does a senior barrister in the Chamber make a decision as to who is best to deal with such a case - how is this process done?

In regards to the CPS, are the State barristers prosecutors and defence barristers given cases as they come - what kind of process is there to this?

1) Role of clerk
2) Elements of deciding
3) Do clerks require legal training

Any resources that I could look at for the answers would be treat too, couldn't find anything

Thanks in advance ^^
Returns (which is the name given to cases that have to be given to another barrister due to unavailability) are handled by the clerks, as almost all elements of a barrister's diary day to day are. In terms of criminal work, there are advocates who are employed by the CPS, but otherwise criminal work comes to barristers in much the same way as cases in other areas of law do. Whilst barristers will often do more defence or prosecution work depending on their practice, you don't have 'prosecution' and 'defence' barristers. As with everything else, cases come into Chambers and the clerks distribute them, either based on specific requests from the solicitor (solicitors will often ask for a specific barrister), or otherwise based on the clerk's own judgment as to which barrister would be suitable for that case.

The role of a clerk is one that is quite difficult to describe because it is pretty unique, in the same way that the role of a barrister is not quite like any other self employed role. Fundamentally clerks take bookings, manage diaries, and negotiate fees, but their role is more substantial than those individual responsibilities might suggest. They play a large part in developing the practices of barristers because of the control they have over the distribution of work, and the relationship between a barrister and his or her clerks is very important. At a more senior level, clerks will have responsibility for business development in Chambers, and the way in which they deal with clients will be just as important as the way that barrister deal with clients.

I don't know what you mean by 'elements of deciding'. In terms of legal training, clerks do not need to be legally trained and rarely are. We have one clerk in Chambers at the moment who I know has a law degree, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Many clerks start from the bottom of the ladder as juniors and work their way up. You don't even necessarily need a degree to secure a job as a clerk, though I expect you may be able to start slightly higher up the ladder with a degree. Post graduate training is rare though. It's more common for clerks to learn the role through doing it, and through doing training courses during the course of their employment. I know of one clerk in Chambers certainly who started as an office junior and is now a clerk in one of the terms having completed certain training courses, and one of our most senior clerks started as an office junior as well.

In terms of gathering more information, I would contact Chambers in your area to see if they could offer any sort of work experience, or even if you could just have a chat with a senior member of the clerking team to gain more insight. My impression as a barrister is that you largely get onto this ladder by starting at or towards the bottom of it and working up, and whilst gaining a degree may well be an advantage, it's not essential. But I'd contact local Chambers and see what they can suggest or offer.
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Chichaldo
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Many thanks, appreciate the detail and time taken for the response!

In terms of elements of deciding I meant in the distribution of returns by clerks. So deciding upon which case to give to whom based on a barrister's experience, suitability, expertise, availability and ability in relation to the case at hand.

I am pursuing the solicitor route myself, and this was a research task for a Chinese firm that I am currently interning at. Unfortunately, due to the Great Firewall restrictions it can make some research tricky to compile, but it is early days so hopefully I find my way around the new interfaces and such.

Cheers again
(Original post by Crazy Jamie)
Returns (which is the name given to cases that have to be given to another barrister due to unavailability) are handled by the clerks, as almost all elements of a barrister's diary day to day are. In terms of criminal work, there are advocates who are employed by the CPS, but otherwise criminal work comes to barristers in much the same way as cases in other areas of law do. Whilst barristers will often do more defence or prosecution work depending on their practice, you don't have 'prosecution' and 'defence' barristers. As with everything else, cases come into Chambers and the clerks distribute them, either based on specific requests from the solicitor (solicitors will often ask for a specific barrister), or otherwise based on the clerk's own judgment as to which barrister would be suitable for that case.

The role of a clerk is one that is quite difficult to describe because it is pretty unique, in the same way that the role of a barrister is not quite like any other self employed role. Fundamentally clerks take bookings, manage diaries, and negotiate fees, but their role is more substantial than those individual responsibilities might suggest. They play a large part in developing the practices of barristers because of the control they have over the distribution of work, and the relationship between a barrister and his or her clerks is very important. At a more senior level, clerks will have responsibility for business development in Chambers, and the way in which they deal with clients will be just as important as the way that barrister deal with clients.

I don't know what you mean by 'elements of deciding'. In terms of legal training, clerks do not need to be legally trained and rarely are. We have one clerk in Chambers at the moment who I know has a law degree, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Many clerks start from the bottom of the ladder as juniors and work their way up. You don't even necessarily need a degree to secure a job as a clerk, though I expect you may be able to start slightly higher up the ladder with a degree. Post graduate training is rare though. It's more common for clerks to learn the role through doing it, and through doing training courses during the course of their employment. I know of one clerk in Chambers certainly who started as an office junior and is now a clerk in one of the terms having completed certain training courses, and one of our most senior clerks started as an office junior as well.

In terms of gathering more information, I would contact Chambers in your area to see if they could offer any sort of work experience, or even if you could just have a chat with a senior member of the clerking team to gain more insight. My impression as a barrister is that you largely get onto this ladder by starting at or towards the bottom of it and working up, and whilst gaining a degree may well be an advantage, it's not essential. But I'd contact local Chambers and see what they can suggest or offer.
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Crazy Jamie
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(Original post by Chichaldo)
In terms of elements of deciding I meant in the distribution of returns by clerks. So deciding upon which case to give to whom based on a barrister's experience, suitability, expertise, availability and ability in relation to the case at hand.
It's a matter of judgment on the part of the individual clerk. If any sets do have policies on it I've never seen one. It's one of the reasons why as a barrister you want to have good relationships with clerks and develop a good reputation, because when a solicitor calls up or a return needs to be allocated and a specific barrister isn't in the frame, it improves your chances of getting that case.
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