Anonymous criminal barrister posts breakdown of entire year’s earnings on Twitter — less than £20,000

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By CJ McKinney on


£19.5k BEFORE chambers rent, insurance and practising certificate

An anonymous Twitter user has posted what they say is their full year’s worth of earnings as a junior criminal barrister: less than £20,000 a year.

The person behind the @TheJJBarrister account says they’ve been driven to reveal the stark figures to “address the misunderstanding” of what new entrants earn at the criminal bar.

The screenshots from the MLC software platform show fee income excluding VAT of £19,500 for 140 cases — or about £139 per case — plus £1,800 in reclaimed expenses.

This is not especially low, according to the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), which says that crime juniors scrape up annual average earnings of £12,200 in their first three years. Criminal lawyers have long warned that early career incomes are less than minimum wage.

Zayd Ahmed of Church Court Chambers provided similar figures yesterday, saying that he’d earned £17,300 in year one of practice, £16,700 in year two and £20,000 in year three.

The gross earnings figure will be further reduced by professional costs such as chambers rent, insurance and practising certificate.

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@TheJJBarrister describes him or herself as a tenant at a “ranked criminal set in London”, with a year’s practice under their belt. They also claim to have racked up £50,000 in student debt. The screenshots are said to detail “the entirety of my earnings from my practice to date”, from June 2021 to June 2022.

Things should improve a bit for advocates in a position to survive the lean early years. Average earnings for criminal barristers as a whole are about £47,000, the CBA says.

But lawyers and their representative groups say that the lower ranks of the profession are being gutted as junior lawyers quit or are put off a life in crime. Criminal barristers went on strike yesterday and today as part of an escalating series of walkouts due to culminate in a week-long stoppage in mid-July.

Lawyers said the numbers were shocking but not surprising. Paralegal Alexandra Wilson tweeted: “I want nothing more than to become a criminal barrister. Statistics below make it a real concern”.

Others praised the gowned crusader for going above and beyond. Thomas de la Mare QC told @TheJJBarrister, “you have my total admiration and support”.

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