Glossary: Bar Jargon
One of the idiosyncrasies of the Bar is the very particular language used. This can get a bit confusing, so we've compiled a little glossary to make sure you're all clued up on the key terms!
You can find more detailed information about some of these terms under the 'Careers at the Bar' heading in the menu.
Bar Council - the Bar's representative body.
Bar Standards Board (BSB) - the Bar's regulatory body.
Barrister - a member of the Bar of England and Wales.
BarSAS - the application system you must use to apply to bar school.
Bench - the judiciary.
Bencher or Master of the Bench - a senior member of an Inn of Court. Often, but not always, judges and silks.
Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) - the vocational training you must complete after your legal studies to become a barrister.
Call - the ceremony where you officially 'become' a barrister, a bit like graduation. You will be 'called by' your Inn.
Chambers - a group of barristers who share the costs and administrative burden of practising. Barristers in chambers are technically self-employed, but your chambers' clerks get you work, so it's sort of like your company.
Circuit - the area of the country you practice in. The circuits are: North Eastern, Northern, Midland, South Eastern, Western and Wales & Chester.
Clerk - the administrators/managers in chambers who organise work for the barristers, payment of fees, etc. Solicitors (or private clients) contact the clerks, who match them up with a barrister for their case.
Counsel - a barrister.
Employed Bar - if you do not practice privately with a chambers but instead are employed full-time by a company or public-body as a sort of in-house barrister, then you work at the Employed Bar.
First and second six - the two halves of your pupillage. During the first half you will be mainly shadowing other barristers, in the second you will likely be 'on your feet' - that is, appearing in court yourself.
Independent Bar - barristers who are self-employed.
Inns of Court - all barristers must belong to an Inn - Gray's Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple or Lincoln's Inn. Your Inn will host your qualifying sessions and call you to the Bar once you complete them.
Junior - not a young barrister! All barristers who are not QCs are 'junior'.
Marshalling - shadowing a judge for work experience.
Mini-pupillage - work experience at a set of chambers. Vital for any aspiring barristers!
Pupillage - the year of training and assessment you will undertake at chambers with a view to achieving tenancy. The bar equivalent of a training contract!
Pupillage Gateway - the online application portal for pupillage. Note that some chambers operate outside of the Gateway and ask for you to apply directly!
Pupil supervisor - a barrister overseeing someone's pupillage. Previously known as a pupil master.
Queen's Counsel (QC) - a senior barrister appointed by the Queen. Barristers apply to a nine-member panel to become a QC.
Set - a set of chambers.
Silk - another word for a QC, as they wear silk robes.
Tenancy - being accepted by chambers to work with them, usually after successfully completing pupillage. Some chambers will take on more pupils than they have tenancy spots, others take on fewer pupils who are almost guaranteed tenancy.
Third Six - a third six month pupillage phase undertaken with a different chambers if you have not been successful gaining tenancy after your first and second six.
Heard or read a term not listed here that you're not sure about, or want further clarification? Email us anytime at with your bar-related questions and we will do our best to help!