The institutions of the Bar
As a long-established profession, the institutional structure of
barristers' working lives is somewhat complex.
The majority of barristers are self-employed practitioners who
work in groups of offices called Chambers. Around 20% of practising
barristers are employed and work in a wide variety of professional
sectors, including central and local Government, the Crown
Prosecution Service, law firms, industry, finance and commerce.
The Bar Council is the barristers' professional representative
The Bar Standards Board is the
regulatory body responsible for maintaining professional standards
among barristers, and
Specialist Bar Associations (SBAs)
are associations dedicated to the interests of particular groups of
barristers. SBAs can help to promote their members' interests, for
example responding to proposals for changes to the regulations.
For the purposes of administration and organisation of the court
system, England and Wales is divided into six Circuits:
Wales and Chester.
Barristers in chambers from each of these areas form the
Circuit, headed by a senior barrister as Circuit Leader. Circuits
undertake similar functions as the Inns in respect of pupillage and
There are four Inns, namely:
Middle Temple, and
They are historic organisations that formerly control the
activity of the Bar. One of the key functions of the Inns is their
responsibility for calling barristers to the Bar.
Legal Services Board
The Legal Services Board (LSB) is the
independent body responsible for overseeing eight approved legal
regulators in England and Wales, including the Bar Council.
Legal Aid Agency
The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) runs the
legal aid scheme in England and Wales. The LAA works in
partnership with solicitors and not-for-profit organisations to
provide information, advice and legal representation to people in
Office for Legal Complaints
The Office for Legal Complaints (OLC) was
established in July 2009 to provide consumers of legal services
with an independent and impartial Ombudsman scheme to resolve
disputes involving their lawyer.