The following chart is the latest data on how much barristers in the UK earn.
At the top end, 2 per cent of barristers take home over £1m per year, while nearly 12 per cent earn less than £30,000.
The reason for the discrepancy in income is largely due to barristers’ differing areas of practice. While even the most junior barristers at most successful commercial chambers can earn in excess of £70,000 and the top commercial QCs can command huge fees, their counterparts at criminal and family sets can make £20,000 or less at the start of their careers – and that is before deductions for chambers’ rent, clerks’ fees, tax and VAT, travel costs, insurance, and compulsory CPD programmes.
While certain sectors of the press paint a picture of barristers as fat cats, in most cases this is a long way from the reality. The attrition rate at the criminal bar has been rising in recent years as juniors have failed to make enough money to live on.