Coming to the bar

GUIDE to becoming a barrister

Guide to Becoming a Barrister to assist you in finding out whether the Bar is a career path for you.


Before you can apply for a NSW barrister's practising certificate, you must be admitted as a lawyer of the Supreme Court of NSW or another Australian state or territory under a corresponding law.

Practising certificates

  • Complete an application for an Australian practising certificate, with conditions attached (the Bar Council has 90 days to determine an application for a practising certificate and may request further information from an applicant to assist with its determination).

All New South Wales barristers' practising certificates (PCs) expire each year on 30 June. Renewal applications should be lodged by 7 June in each year. Learn more about professional indemnity insurance (PII), PC and membership fees, accreditation of mediators and more  here.

Professional indemnity insurance

Professional indemnity insurance is a statutory requirement for all barristers in New South Wales. Learn more here.


A lawyer, when issued with an initial practising certificate with reader conditions, is termed a 'reader'. The reader embarks on the  Reading Program, which has two major elements, the Bar Practice Course & reading with a tutor.

Readers Rooms

In order to assist new readers, the Bar Association publishes  Readers Rooms, a page with all the relevant information regarding chambers, such as fees, application dates, selection criteria and contact details.


Tutors provide a supervisory and mentoring role for new barristers. The Bar Association has replaced the Statutory List of Tutors with the Current Tutor List and the Potential Tutor List. The Bar Association recommends that arrangements for seeking a tutor should be initiated between six months to a year before coming to the bar. Learn more  here.

Returning to practise at the bar

If an Australian lawyer wishes to return to practise at the bar, certain requirements must be met. Learn more here.


Since 2014 the Bar Association has offered junior barristers in their second year at the bar an opportunity to receive guidance and support from leaders in the profession. For senior barristers, the program is an opportunity to develop effective leadership skills and encourage and support emerging talent at the New South Wales Bar. For more information about the benefits of the mentoring program please click  here.

Information for Indigenous practitioners

For over a decade, the Association has worked to improve the educational path for Aboriginal law students studying at NSW universities and to assist in providing career development opportunities and career prospects for Aboriginal lawyers through the Indigenous Barristers Trust The Mum Shirl Fund. Our primary goal is to increase the number of Aboriginal barristers practising at the NSW Bar. For more information see here.