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

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£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.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Chambers Most List

@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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Shows the obvious answer is to move funding that goes towards the more senior criminal lawyers earning over £47k and use it to fairly fund the junior ones.



Do you also suggest surgeons and doctors share their salaries with nurses?



Surgeons and nurses do different jobs. So bad first response. On the defence side particularly the state only needs to pay for representation, and that does not need to cost £500 a day.



It’s fairer to compare, say, a consultant surgeon with a bit of healthy private practice on the side to a newly-appointed house doctor. Surgical registrars seem to make about the same as an experienced criminal barrister, senior consultant surgeons make over 100 grand, but a first year junior doctor is paid just under £30k. And of course they get automatic increments every year of practice for the first few years.

Seems to me that junior barristers get a raw deal compared to even the lowliest physician.



I’ll tell that to their Uber Eats driver – “Sorry mate – this criminal barrister you’re delivering quail pizza to has a MUCH worse deal than you do in life!”


Not really a fairer comparison for two reasons. There is not the justification for the higher pay for higher skill sets in criminal defence work, basic representation does and being a criminal barrister is a far easier job and requires far less work than being a doctor.


Senior and junior barristers do different levels of cases. Have you ever set foot in a criminal court??



But the state only needs to fund basic representation. That should be the aim when taxes are going up and up.


And senior barristers do different jobs to juniors – eg murder trials vs committals for sentence. However, as a senior barrister myself the money needs to be adjusted for ALL levels of practise. I deal with the most vulnerable in society – children, mentally impaired, victims of trafficking, victims of and people charged with the most serious of criminal offences and the only way I make more than 55k a year is by working 18 hour days 6 days a week and only taking one week off. Personally I am not willing to do that after 30 years. When I came to the Bar you made a decent living. Now unless you are prepared to work 120 plus hours a week 52 weeks a year you don’t make a living. During lockdown I worked in Tescos. Regular 12 hour shifts – 4 days on 4 days off. I appreciated the regular hours even if I was working in the freezer distribution centre at minus 25 degrees for just over minimum wage. It was the only way – i dont have cushy savings or this fat cat life the daily mail says we have




(Bet you don’t go. You like to tell people what you do too much.)

Archibald Pomp O'City

“as a senior barrister myself the money needs to be adjusted for ALL levels of practise. I deal with the most vulnerable in society”

I (for one) believe that you are authentic. You didn’t write “Tesco’s”. (The Daily Mail is a proper noun, of course, but even the best of us can slip up).


Not genuine – practice is the noun (not practise)


No such problems in Canada for Legal Aid barristers:


That’s about £45K, y’know.


An Barrister


You mean cut fees for higher level work to increase fees for lower level work?



Yes, by Jove he’s/she’s got it. That would increase the incomes of the new entrants, thus promoting diversity etc, etc.


Frustrated by the ignorance

Are you for real? Why would people who, by the time they are 10 years into practice and perhaps with kids to support, work all the ridiculous hours they do (every evening and at least one day per weekend) for less money than they currently earn? Why would anyone want to train for at least 5 years to earn £30k a year and have £50k student debt? It’s a ridiculous suggestion.

The answer is proper remuneration for the work they do, at all levels. Prosecuting/defending a murder or drugs conspiracy is not the same (amount of work, stress, pressure) as a common assault. It’s a journey. But both should be properly remunerated.



“Why would anyone want to train for at least 5 years to earn £30k a year and have £50k student debt?” You mean like teachers? Or nurses? Why are you so special?

Megnuts no!

Its really simple. Legal Aid sucks, and there are way too many ppl qualifying as barristers! I left after 8 years and now run a full time paralegal law firm. I do everything except reserved stuff, but earn approx £135k a year after deductions. Do the sums.



Would love some advice on setting up something like this.



Not really. Then no one would want to touch the bigger harder cases that come with a LOT of responsibility. There would also be little incentive for the future.
Oh and if you think earnings for more senior counsel are anything to shout about, think again. Hourly rates half that if a cheap plumber or car mechanic.


Archibald Pomp O'City

“Shows the obvious answer is to move funding that goes towards the more senior criminal lawyers earning over £47k and use it to fairly fund the junior ones.”

What a lovely idea. How much of your earning do you share with the young and/or incompetent?



Keen to point out that I must have got my Tesco and Tesco’s wrong I notice that perhaps the best of us do slip up – I believe you mean “your earnings” …..

And I doubt very much that the DM is a proper noun!



Farming is better money.


The Voice of the People

The Bar- “We want to promote social mobility @ the Bar – let’s offer training subsidises for those in need and more outreach events.”

Criminal Chambers’ Financial Clerk “Hold my beer!”



You seen how much personal carers, teaching assistants working with disabled children and nurses earn per year? People who quite literally work directly with some of society’s most vulnerable, beyond a 30 min conference?



this is not meant to be a race to the bottom



That’s what she said



Or he… or they or it… dont be sexist.



People seem to think criminal barristers should be grateful to do an interesting job that they can talk about at parties, and compare their earnings to Uber drivers? Why shouldn’t we have professional earnings for a professional job?



In the past, people who were struggling financially got a second job, cut costs and got on with it. Now people go online, and moan. How times are changing, for the worst.



This sort of dull witless flaming is quite tragic.



Stop it, he’s right and at least he makes new comments, not like you, very unoriginal.



Geoff, I put you as Alan and I claim my $25!



Geoff plays in a three ball with Alan every Wednesday afternoon in Surrey. Geoff is looking forward to discussing Alan’s new Jaguar Boomer this afternoon. After a few drinks from the cart, the discussions turn to how foreigners are ruining the country and how millennials are awful. Geoff and Alan know they are right about this. Alan uses a term about foreigners and Geoff comments “I am not sure we can call them that any more”. They chuckle, knowing full well they should not be calling anyone that. Geoff likes Alan, Alan just gets Geoff. Alan and Geoff are terrible at golf.



Genuine question – would you want a barrister representing you that had to work an additional job to make ends meet? Do you think they’d be able to provide you an adequate service? What a silly comment, Alan.


Ms A-C

“Get another job” love these responses not like these people are working part time. These are full time professionals who are working all hours of the day and night….now you propose they “get another job” …..sorry Alan but you are clueless mate.

You sound like an MP oh what’s that your poor, go and get another job pleb!!



FFS – you can’t expect them to give up Waitrose and BA Executive Club Silver membership.

How could they look other people from the BPTC in the eye???

Don’t you understand that by shouting loudly, tweeting and blogging a lot, lives will be literally saved, because a barrister says so?



More than that.

Personal carer rates are £15.00 per hour and rising. Employed carers receive holiday pay, contributions towards pensions and sick pay. Nurses are paid considerably more, especially when you factor their pension into the equation. Nurses/carers/teaching assistants don’t pay a percentage of their earnings back to their employer.






Yes, demanding a 25% increase when 15% has been offered really is horrifying.



Stop moaning and get on with it. You knew what the deal was before qaulifying! If pay was a real issue you would have sought a career with a law firm and got yourself a training contract.


Got our country back

And realise criminals are not top of the people’s priorities right now when you are saying an inflation-busting pay rise is not enough.


Happily retired !

When I commenced practice in 1968 in a « well established set » we supplemented low earnings by marking exam papers, lecturing to evening classes at the City Lit and other Colleges, and minicabbing. The lecturing opportunity was passed from one junior tenant to another as his or her income increased. We were content to have found a tenancy. Entitlement to a living income was never guaranteed and it was accepted that the Bar was competitive and overcrowded. What is different now is that experienced practitioners struggle to survive on Legal Aid.



Back in the 90s it was possible to do a mags list for £500 a day. Easy money. Criminal bar was rolling it. That’s where the fat cat reputation came from.

These days it’s £75 for a trial including prep time.

I feel the current generation are paying for the excesses of previous generations.


Leave means leave

Isn’t the answer simple: do not go into criminal law.

Every junior I know at the criminal bar has left or is planning to leave.

I cannot see why someone who hasn’t yet joined the profession would want to join when you can see everyone who is currently in the profession is getting out.

The criminal bar is finished. Let’s accept it.


A Person

Criminal defence lawyers should be paid about the same as teachers.



Many already are.

Many earn less.

Some earn more.


A Person

They don’t need to earn any more. That’s the point. That frees up cash for those that earn less.



Teachers are leaving the profession in droves. How is that a solution?


Archibald Pomp O'City

This is a deeply sad story, and reflects the increasing disconnect between the value brought to criminal law by criminal barristers, and the worth attached to their precarious roles. Every accused deserves a competent and committed defence. But with barristers relegated to the financial status of shelf-stackers, what hope for the youth caught scrumping apples as he stands shaking in the dock? What hope that these young professionals, with their broad legal shoulders, will wait for the glittering rewards they were promised in future years? Inevitably, we will need to take practical steps to merge the barristerial roles with the second jobs that sustain them, to create an entirely new class of roles fit for the 21st century: barristadmins, barristwaiters, serbarristvice assistants and the like. The greatest irony is that if every man, woman and child in the UK contributed £1 of their salary (or pocket money) to barristers, then barristers would have a windfall of about £67million to write their resignation letters to Tesco and pay their bills.


Disgruntled A&O Associate

Probably not the right forum for it but A&O just announced that NQ and associate spot salaries are not going up due to ‘economic conditions becoming more challenging’. We are not happy.



Send the email to Legal Cheek



Resign then. Or stop moaning.


Wandered in again

I haven’t looked at Legal Cheek for a long time.

I flick to it…and your’re STILL using the wig-and-gown-on-pavement picture. Get a new one FGS.

Anyway, the crimbo hacks are victims of their clerks’ and seniors’ wish to churn work at the lowest rungs to keep the sols happy and maintain rich pickings for the top of the chambers’ ladders.


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