How much does a barrister earn?

Barristers are self-employed and are paid by their clients (usually law firms) for each case that they work on.  

The exception to this is pupils, who are paid a ‘pupillage award’ by  chambers during their training year. 


Pupillage awards can vary greatly depending on the location and specialism of the set. 

Pupils in top commercial sets can expect to receive up to £75,000 in their pupillage year, whereas at family and criminal sets, pupillage awards start from around £30,000. 

From 1 January 2023, the minimum pupillage award will be £20,703 for 12-month pupillages in London and £18,884 per annum for pupillages outside London. 

Qualified barristers 

It’s widely known that being a barrister can be a lucrative career path. In reality though, the amount that barristers earn depends on their level of seniority and in which area of law they practise.  

In 2020, according to the Bar Standards Board, 2% of barristers earned £1m and above, whilst 11.88% earned less than £30,000.  

The largest proportion of those surveyed (22.26%) were earning between £90,000 and £150,000. 

It’s worth noting that these are gross figures and are exclusive of chambers’ fees, clerks’ fees, insurance, travel costs, tax and more.