Perceived as 'out-dated, elitist and old fashioned' and facing the toughest challenge to its future, one of the most powerful professions in the country opens its doors for the cameras.
After years of negotiation, the team that produced BBC Two's award-winning Anatomy of a Crime has had unprecedented access to the Bar to follow barristers, their cases – from divorce settlements to murder - and the ambitious young men and women who aspire to join one of the most prestigious professions in the world.
It's a glamorous job which produces Prime Ministers, millionaires and the judges who shape our law, but the climb to the top is steep and difficult, thousands start on the road to become a ‘brief’ every year but just one in five will ever present a case in court.
The series follows students, Anna, Iqbal, Cat and Jo as they take their first steps on the Bar Vocational Course – a year at college costing around £12,000 – will any of them get a Pupillage (an apprenticeship in a set of barrister’s chambers)? And then there’s a Tenancy to be found before they can finally begin to practise in court.
While the backdrop may be steeped in history, tradition and etiquette, the challenges of the 21st Century are never far away. The government believes the legal profession is “outdated and insufficiently accountable” and is reducing the Legal Aid budget by millions of pounds, while searching for cheaper ways of prosecuting and defending cases. The Bar, however, says the quality and independence of the law is under attack and justice threatened.
The Barristers focuses on entrants to a profession once again reinventing itself - while retaining a noble history.