A barrister's clerk is an important administrative support role within the legal systems of England and Wales -- in Scotland, the same role is performed by an advocate's clerk. Working within the chambers of barristers, the clerk ensures the smooth-running of the operation and he is key to the success of the practice as a legal entity and a business.
A key function performed by a barrister's clerk is negotiating and collecting fees from clients. This is vital to the functioning of the chambers as a business. Fees are negotiated -- typically dependent upon the time and effort required to prepare the case -- between the clerk and the client, and when a fee schedule has been agreed, a barrister will take on the case.
Organisation is an important skill for a barrister's clerk. She is responsible for running the diary of the barristers, ensuring they get to court on time and arranging any other meetings. Often working for several barristers, each with one or more cases, the clerk must be adept at multi-tasking and staying aware of how cases are progressing. She may also be required to undertake legal research.
Administrative tasks within chambers fall under the remit of the barrister's clerk. Typically helped by several junior clerks who work under him and to whom he can delegate tasks, the clerk performs a role similar to that of an office manager. He ensures documents are correctly prepared, plans the workload of the barristers so that they are able to meet all their commitments and plans the timetables of cases.
Barristers' chambers are run as legal and business entities. The clerk is responsible for marketing the business, attracting new clients and generating revenue from the legal expertise the staff of the chambers offer. This is achieved partly through a network of contacts within the legal profession, but may also involve activities such as running seminars.
An individual entering the profession as a barrister's clerk at the most junior level may earn as little as £12,000 a year. However, as he develops skills and experience, salary levels rise considerably. A senior barrister's clerk can earn as much as £80,000 annually, while a few may even reach a six-figure salary. A clerk may also earn bonuses dependent upon the income of the barristers themselves.