16 per cent of barristers earn more than £240,000 a year – that accounts for about 2,500 barristers.
However, a further 13 per cent of barristers (around 2,000) make under £30,000, and nearly one third make under £60,000.
See the graph for a detailed breakdown of barrister salaries, taken from the Bar Council, which releases figures on barrister salaries in the UK. It draws these statistics together on an annual basis to work out how much barristers should pay in practising certificate fees.
The reason for the discrepancy in salaries is largely due to barristers’ differing areas of practice. While even junior barristers at top commercial chambers can earn in excess of £70,000, their counterparts at criminal and family sets can make £20,000 or less at the start of their careers – before deductions for chambers’ rent, clerks’ fees, tax and VAT, travel costs, insurance, and compulsory CPD programmes.
The attrition rate at the criminal bar has been rising in recent years as juniors have failed to make enough money to live on.