Business model of the bar
la persona imp… 15 Apr 21 03:37
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How does that work?

so e.g you bill as a baby junior £250 an hour for 1000 hours a year, that’s 250k

assuming the chambers takes 20%, and other expenses are c. 10%, that leaves you with 175k, that’s a salaried partner at macs pretty much

which seems like a lot for 1000 hours for baby Hugo armed only with a congratulatory first from St. John’s and balls which haven’t yet dropped

is it the case though that they actually work 2-3 hours for every hour they charge to appear efficient?

Following up on this as I cannot trace a response 

Seems fair.

A junior barrister will give me answers to tricky legal questions.

A salaried partner at "Macs" fills no particular void in my life, although I'm sure he serves a purpose to somebody. 

Seems the opposite of fair to me and keeps me up at night in a cold sweat 

or strange sweat glands. Are you a ponceprince of some kind?

Don't want to cause you too much distress Biggie, but solicitors can run a similar model. Find the right niche and you could easily bill £300 an hour at 5PQE, with only about 10-20% overheads.

£175k salaried partner at Macs - you reckon Biggie?  Same across the rest of the SC?  That's about a 4PQE at US I reckon?!  Eeyore - the problem is though that you're unlikely to be able to get hold of enough work to do that out on your own or as a consultant at 5PQE. 

Yes I know that but overheads are much larger and the gods accept pecuniary sacrifices from associates for 1+ million drawings

300 an hour for a 5PQE lol

we bill trainees for more than that

but the overheads are so high. Marketing. BD. Client crap. Taking the kids out for 2k of drinks on a Friday night. 

and then it isn’t a flat comp model

there’s no other barrister sucking up the profits on another’s profit

Although juniors may have a symbiotic relationship with QCs and more senior juniors to provide assistance and cheaper grunt labour, it’s not direct abuse and molestation as in law firms



Depends on area - it’s about 200k generally

yeah with bonus you’ll be on more at a US at 4

Lol @ the notion of a junior barrister at a commercial set doing 1,000 hours per year.  Double that and you're in the right ballpark.

Yeah but on the maths presented if you double that, they’re making too much money to make sense

i know that a first year is on net net over 100kand that a second year may be up to 200k

I also know they hit walls in take home because you can only bill so many hours and charge only so much for what you bill

thats the whole reason you need to build your brand, get relationships. Win cases. Ultimately go for QC.

200 an hour for 2k is 400k net net

Doesnt work out

i know for a fact I have always been balling more than my dishevelled mates at the bar

Perhaps recovery is really sh1t, if you’re at 50% recovery then the maths starts getting there

"Eeyore - the problem is though that you're unlikely to be able to get hold of enough work to do that out on your own or as a consultant at 5PQE"

Been there, done it. Lawyers are so conservative, such creatures of habit.

Recovery is close to 100% (I’ve only not been paid once, for a small amount by a firm that went into insolvency proceedings). Hours billed and hourly rates obviously vary hugely.  Yes you obviously have brief fees/agreed fees so may end up working longer than the notional hours on which the fee is based (daily rates might be based on 10 hour day for eg which isn’t realistic in a heavy commercial case).  Occasionally you get the joy of a case settling after the brief fee is incurred.  And you end up doing unremunerated work like articles and conference talks. Wouldn’t say I work twice the hours I get paid for though I’ve never stopped to work it out.

Thanks deadc

This doesn’t help the maths

if a baby junior is 250 an hour and does 1500 hours billable, 500+ non billable on BD, marketing and travel, the net net is 375k

which is 260 less reasonable deductions of chambers and clerks and other tax deductibles of c.30%

the point is that they cannot be on this much 

they must be on about 130ish after these expenses before tax

so I am therefore trying to work out how they are actually paid less than it appears

the answer appears to be in brief fees, in that they agree something will take them 100 hours then actually it takes them 300 hours. Therefore they work 1500-2000 hours but only end up billing 750 hours 

that makes much more sense to me


As a litigator who works a lot with friends who are junior barristers - the billable hours are actually quite low because so much of the time is spent on BD and written off.

To take one example, a junior with about five years call at the leading set in my area of law has just charged me £925 plus VAT for a very detailed, nine page opinion on a quite complicated area of law for a client. Background documentation came to about 150 or 160 pages. The reason for the opinion was was because the query was on an unprecedented point of law but the client could not afford a QC.

The initial emails, the research, and writing up would've taken at least 10 hours if he had been efficient. So we're talking about 65% write off on a notional £300 hourly rate or an effective hourly rate of £92.50 an hour. I did say to him that this seemed a bit cheap but that is apparently the going rate.

Just to give you an idea of the type of chambers he is in, it is one of those where they give first six pupils an annual salary of c £75,000 a year rather than some bucket shop above the bookies.

The reality is that juniors like him work incredibly hard and bring in maybe 100k to 120k plus in profits a year (conpared to perhaps salary range of 75k to 100k per year for junior solicitors in that area, excluding US firms). 

There is also the risk of losing business and not having a steady pipeline of work...

The fact is that at the top commercial sets even junior juniors make a lot of money, there’s a lot of work available and they can bill for pretty much what they do.  At slightly less regarded sets there will be less work (so people may well simply have lots of quiet time when they are not billing at all), they will be done for less spendy clients and more of it will be done on CFAs. So yes you probably work harder for your money/making less if you’re charging £250 an hour at 13 old court commercial chambers of Harvey Barfman QC than if you’re at a magic circle set. 

Thanks both

jamie that makes most sense to me. That’s what I thought - basically billing less than you work and write offs

id have thought 150-200 is about the wall for a decent junior working pretty hard with 30% expenses

so as you say c.100-150k all in pre tax after expenses for most of their careers all the while having to actually be somewhat clever and hard working

versus a letter box angry letter writing solicitor litigator who pockets probably 80-170k for most of the career 

I think the problem with barristers is so many of them are barely articulate

quite clever but monotonous warbling

no adjustments to tone

this sort of endless white middle class voice 

all sound to the same. So concentrated on the docs they come across as these tedious drones

and they think they can’t - any show of emotion, they think, moves them away from reasonableness 

they’re such a type

Whenever I ask a barrister a question which could be expressed as a sentence with more than one comma, they say “Let’s take this in stages” and then break every word down to its logical meaning, chucking in a bit of Frege to make extra certain that their answer is incomprehensible.

I dated a commercial barrister.. would not recommend 

Let's take this in stages:

1) A vast amount of the time one spends working as a barrister is not billable. 

2)  Barristers don't work "to the clock", so if the IS calls for a chat, that doesn't become a couple of units. Same with emails etc.

3) Very often you will have a brief fee negotiated by your clerk who has tried to ensure that it is competitively priced, so now hours become meaningless

4) Most barristers I know are hopeless at time recording. It's not in their DNA.


Biggie how expensive are the barristers you instruct? Surely that would give you an idea?

at commercial sets it's pretty easy for juniors to be making £200-250k net at 5 years qualification

that may go up to £500k in a good year for a successful junior but more likely to even out at £250-£350k net for your average jobbing junior commercial baz

figures will be higher at the big 4 (Essex, OEC, Fountain Ct and Brick Ct)

most bazzas think other bazzas are earning more than they actually are


Heffa how hard is it to get such a tenancy? I'm guessing that even someone as bright as brilliant as myself may have some difficulty?

Most people think all bazzas are earning more than they actually are. 

Not quibbling with your figures, but that's only at certain sets I would think. I always think it's vulgar to ask my mates who are doing it what they earn but they definitely seem comfortable. And tired.

Hard Crypto. Really hard. There simply aren't many of them.

Biggie , you are absolutely fooking clueless. You’ve been berating barristers and piling in on them as though they are infinitely less something to you.

best mate from the BVC is at a MC set works hard but not especially so  , chambers rent is 10%. Most decent sets of any discipline will be 10-15. Other mates doing PI Clin Neg, employment , prof Neg are killing it . If you’re an also ran at a good /very good commercial and civil set you can make a great living . Imagine if you work hard and are able and in demand . 

Yeah that fits, TB. How many such bazzas are there in the whole country? 1,000? 

yup, you have to be brilliant, awesome and amazing

I take it you're one such walking god? Nice one. Well deserved. 

Crypto, even the best commercial sets, have more than their fair share of lazy, incompetent members, with some just doing it as a kind of hobby/part time gig. Matty /biggie has a compulsive obsession in hating barristers and has done for years.

Despite him claiming he obtained a pupillage at a top commercial set, and turned it down in favour of a TC at top ten firm, blozzing docs. Which no one EVER would.

Crypto 9000 at the Independent Bar, which is about 3000 too many, and there are probably twice as many crim bazzas as is needed for them all to make a sustainable living

9,000 total so I can't imagine more than 1,000 doing commercial work for the net net outlined above. A very steep pyramid indeed.

Business model of the bar?  Customer orders drinks in return for money. Also pork scratchings and kp nuts for a higher margin offering. 

It's really hard to get a tenancy anywhere to be honest. There's a narrow bottleneck at the pupillage stage and another at tenancy. Think it was about 1 in 10 got a pupillage and maybe a third of them got tenancy when I qualified. My tutor group on the BVC did pretty well against those numbers but only 4 of us got pupillage (out of 12 I think) and only 2 tenancy. They were all perfectly able.

Well Heff and Tangent

it appears I was right all along then 

200-250 for a 5 year with a 30% costs base to c 130k pa for as you noted Tangent, a small proportion of your hours actually billed and paid for, and for what effectively involves 2000+ hours a year.

Effectively they are earning a bit more than a magic circle firm in London for their call year but not breaking US, unless (and still only by a bit if) they are Big 4 exceptional stars, usually part of a team of barristers effectively working like a mini law firm for a bunch of big wig QCs and a big wanker banker client who doesn’t flinch on fees and you can fantasise about billing as much as you like

therefore it appears that they work harder and have less security than solicitors only to get paid less or about the same

and in any event they are merged to their rotten old shack in Chancery Lane, and can never leave for the cave of wonders in Dubai where, actually, any lawyer out there outearns a London barrister equivalent 10 times over 

at least we are apparently in agreement on those facts 

As a schtick this is becoming increasingly unsophisticated. 2/10 would not recommend.

Those odds look tough but then I remember I want to do a job that only about 70 people in the whole U.K. do and training jobs only come up every few years. 

Should deffo have been a commercial bazza. 

LPI/Matty stop talking nonsense, where on earth do you get 30% of billings taken by way of expenses, you moron, you haven't got a clue. You have done this to death  over years and years.


@ crypto, there are many areas equal to the commercial bar in earnings ,  with some disciplines routinely charging out more on an hourly basis than the "MC  Sets" especially pre silk, and if you are at one of the leading half dozen sets or so in their respective specialist areas.






Prof Neg , to name but a few.


Plenty of PI/Clin Neg bazzas at leading sets 10 years call billing 300-400k. Although they will wotk very hard, but certainly less than a MC blozzing docs equivalent

I do not know who you are ebitda, however unfortunately the representations you have made claiming to know me and who I am, my posts, other accounts, are untrue.

I am perplexed as to why you disagree with Heff, Tangent and jamie in their relevant posts, as well as myself. 

jamie's post in particular is very good. A very good set where juniors make about 100-120 before tax and after expenses sounds about right. This is good money for someone in their early to mid 20s, although not quite so good as many barristers qualify a little later often the wrong side of 30.

But they're not doing badly and you shouldn't scoff at their earnings


If you want to feel good about yourself and your life decisions then take a look at architects and their salaries/workload.

that is probably the most thankless profession an intelligent person could go into.

" A very good set" Doing what, breach of contract claims for defective new build homes, or doing commercial or prof neg work, you have been a bit broad brush mate.


Mugen , agreed , in the past I have thought about being an Architect , but seven years plus to qualify, to work for a two /three partner practice, as they mostly are, for 25/30k, working 14 hour days, travelling across the country. Nah

LPA, why did you turn down a commercial pupillage at a top set for a TC?

mugen heh about architects. so true!

Especially the ones who work in-house at large developers

The feeling of horror that a friend of mine gets when one of his beautiful creations gets slowly destroyed as it goes through the meat grinder

**So the design brief was for light, airy, flats with plenty of open space and sunlight**

**great but we need to double the number of units for sale so plz redesign into microflats. Oh, and the green spaces outside also need to go, too much cost to maintain**


just to be clear that we're all in agreement:

(1) barristers have to work traumatically hard and the concept of billing is a false one;

(2) they will effectively work al the hours mammon gives them, but if they were grunts in a sweat shop they'd be billing probably 2500 hours.

(3) however given the brief fee thing and the need to be seen to get things done cheap to meet certain const limitations and to build a  rep and get re-instructed, they probably hard bill about 1k hours with good recovery;

(4) however after insurance, clerk's fees, rent, books, travel etc. they are 30% down. they're also down in the dual purpose things like wigs and gowns which keep barristers warm and decent and therefore not completely tax deductible;

(5) therefore they're left with about an NQ at US firm's paycheck at about 2-5 years call; and 

(6) it appears from those respondents in this thread, that one should not date a barrister. i am not sure what the reason was but it appears to be an idea that they are arrogant and narrative with no peni

Lol at both the opening premise and the conclusion being that all barristers have an hourly rate of £250 and bill 1,000 hrs pa. Also yes 30% expenses is bonkers and most importantly of course court dress is tax deductible, as is the laundry thereof.

DC, he is trolling, badly and utterly clueless


lpa , again why did you turn down a pupillage at a top commercial set.

Ebitda tbf biggie hates all litigators and assume his hatred of bazzas is just a subset of that?

Thought tax was pretty lucrative. Know of a junior who will never take silk making best part of a million a year.

CW, yes the Tax bar is incredibly lucrative. The issue for those taken on is in the beginning few years have to supplement their earnings by lecturing and consulting work, and stuff. No client is going to trust a 3 year call bazza with a tax hearing or providing a tax advice to a corporate.

A mate at PWC was acting on behalf of a corporate client, who needed some complex written tax advice, and a subsquent conference with Counsel. The advice ran to 50 pages apparently, and the conference lasted a morning. The senior junior about 15 years call had his Clerk send a fee note for 100k. That was about ten years ago....

LPA/Matty/biggie/ How much litigation have you undertaken since you qualified a few years ago or do yo still maintain you are a equity partner? How many Bazzas are close personal friends who you have studied with in the past. Have you ever practised at the Bar?

The best/better sets in their various disciplines / areas have far too much work, rather than too little. Very rarely any discount on hourly charge out rates or brief fees, unless they are trying to get a new tenant out and about, or trying to get a new Silk in the shop window early given their newly appointed status.

I can tell you no end of baby(ish) juniors below 7 years call who practice in say Employment, Prof Neg/Clin neg, Insurance who avoid Clerks emails and calls on a Thursday or Friday, with pressure to accept a 3/4/5 day trial starting on the Monday. Its hellish, and this happens because as I say these chambers have far too much work, biggie

Business model of the criminal bar.

Spend years qualifying only to earn fvck all and quit within 5 years of qualification.

I don’t think I was an attention to detail tede when i started lawyerin’ but I’m getting increasingly vexed by ebitda calling matty ‘lpa’. 

Puppy all my peers from the BVC left the criminal bar within 3 years of tenancy , 2 managed to blag their way into PI and health and safety sets and seem to be doing rather well.

And I think linda is right, all these marvellous and informative accounts emanating from the UAE appear to come from the mysterious god-like Moriarty figure known to me only as hyoo

That sounds about right ebitda. The senior tax junior I'm thinking of does virtually no advocacy its all advisory work. 

Right re the good sets having too much work. Did you see 4NS advertising for those less than 7 years call to join them a little while back.

Is Biggie hyoo? That must be nearly 20 years of carrying on the same routine on here. Incredible dedication/mental illness if so

Clive W I did and numerous other sets of that kind . My ex was at 4NS, virtually back to back 2-5 day trials , then conferences, paperwork and settling pleadings , along with being 1st or 2nd Junior to a senior silk on huge cases. A fair few buggered of to Fountain Court where the pace was more serene and they had more control over their diaries .

CW when I talk about Tax work I’m not talking about the stuff Joylon used to do at Deverwux 

Despite your obsession with other peoples' careers and earnings, I don't think you ever told us what you do, ebitda. Other than that you didn't make it as a bazza and you are not a solicitor. Care to enlighten us?

Ebitda was called to the bar.

Which branch of Wetherspoons, in or around Wimbledon, I couldn’t tell you. 

Whichever one it is, he appears to have gone back there. Must be early opening. I guess we will have to keep guessing.

Deadceleb - quite happy to hear other metrics, but I cannot reconcile those posters who claim brief fees provide an underestimation of work, the fact that it is well known wig jockeys under deliberately downplay their time to look more competent.

“I have an Oxbridge first and I did your work in 1 hour. Did it actually take me 10, did I misread page 12 and have to start all over again? Maybe. But I am very impressive and I think I could have done it in one hour. Please like me. I have a Mansfield prize”

they’ve got to be on 100-150 pre tax after expenses as juniors

expenses are like 20 for chambers fees, 10 for clerks, then you have the tax deductible. Some things are half and half like phones and computers for personal use. Suits I don’t think are as they keep you warm. As do robes. Maybe robes are half and half. You can’t separate the robe keeping you decent and clothed and the practical element of the robe. 

a lot of judges say a barrister without a wig is “naked” and to come back and put one on. I wonder what HMRC makes of that

Anyhow I’m sure train tickets are very expensive and they probably have 15k a year just on those added to the others

Biggie, you clearly have no idea as to Chambers contributions, none of the sets doing the work discussed  in this thread charge 20% for Chambers and 10% for Clerks. In fact I would hasten a guest there is no chambers at all that charges 30%, even those above a laundry in Grimbsy High Street.


" They've got to be on 100-150 pre tax after expenses as juniors" Who is they, what level of call are you talking, what areas? Assuming you are on about a one /two year tenant ,doing employment/PI work, I agree wholeheartedly .

Our rent was a fixed amount pcm rather than a percentage plus Clerks/Chambers fees of about 5%. Amounted to around 15% of gross fees. The chambers I trained at was 20% inclusive of rent and clerks.


Thanks Tangent, all my friends pay between 10 and 15% of receipts   all inclusive. Biggie insists its 30% lol

Ah yes, to clarify I am saying the norm is about 20% for the fees and rent, although it might be above that in some cases

but I am also saying there’s an additional 10% which comes out on other deductibles like travel, computers, books, certificates, insurance

chitty alone is about 1k. 
spending at least 5k on travel. London to slough county court is about a tenner each way, they do that journey 15 times a month, that’s 300, and per year that’s 4K. I imagine on some occasions the journeys are marginally more exotic.

that’s what I mean by the total 30% and I appreciate it’s not always very clear


I know a kid who left a US firm for the bar. Went from 300 to a 70k pupillary to 100 odd k all in probably 

I mean I don’t ask but it’s not great. Nice guy. He was already a litigator though. Big pay cut but I understand at least he does something now.

I have a much higher appreciation of barristers who seem to do things, than the angry letterbox litigators who bring little to the table and which suck equity out of an otherwise extremely profitable structure


I think the answer to your apparent issue imp is that successful junior barrister at top commercial sets ARE earning the sort of figures you are talking about. The ones who are second or third junior on massive Russian litigation.

These will not be your scruffbag bazza friends.

Whereas a proper baby barrister at a merely decent commercial set will not be on 250 an hour. Junior barristers can be amazing value. Opinions in particular always involve huge writeoffs of time. Pleadings usually too.

Whichever one it is, he appears to have gone back there. Must be early opening. I guess we will have to keep guessing.

Goose - he probably typed a lengthy response only for it to be lost when pressing reply as the wifi will be proper ropey in a 'Spoons.

Yeah Spurius, I’m really referring to Cornerstone or Outer or one of those ones

i would have thought those guys are on 100-200 mostly after deductions between first and 8 year

i suppose firms probably only have one or two chambers in mind when it comes to certain matters - e.g they want insolvency so they go South Square, they want a big balls Jew so they go to Rabbiweinerwitz and so the Essex juniors get in on the action too. Happy to accept that their juniors go for 200-300 generally after 2 years, with senior juniors on 300-400 or even a bit more


Surely if you want to understand their model speak to Keystone?

That's probably right for the hourly rates at a 3rd ranking set like that - starting around 100 at year 1. Before deductions.

They are not doing anything like the conveyer belt of work you imagined, though.

They are scrabbling for work, the instructing solicitors are often joke shops, the clients don't always pay... it's feast and famine. Some months you can get a decent trial with an eye-warering brief fee, other months you spend days on an opinion that turned out to be 10 times as complicated as your quote and you discover that you have to write off a load of fees as bad debt.

The better instructing solicitors work out who the better barristers are in chambers and they get the better work with clients who pay; the others get thrown the odd hospital pass.


It's still a great profession. Getting paid 100 quid an hour NQ, being your own boss, being able to go on holiday for the whole of August and do the odd bit of work remotely, not having to answer to some slave driving wanker - it's brilliant.

Yeah that’s exactly what I meant

sets from Outer to Enterprise to Hardwicke maybe even 4 pump court , Littleton....even maybe Serle

i know the brick, fountain, wilberforce guys are on mega dough and easily outdoing US law firms, but they work like niche mini law firms themselves

These guys are at the tier 2-4 sort of sets have excellent backgrounds, are probably super hard working and sharp, but yeah I always figured they were on about 100-200 with some hefty deductions, and probably less than their solicitor counterparts at MC, US and even boutique law firms

I never to thought if you were getting scraps from Kennedy’s insurance practice and thinking that was big boy work from your regular diet of high street loft conversion disputes, how you could ever be making that much 




Re your 16:22 Spurius, there appear to be some wrinkles in that account:

(1) the loneliness (…);

(2) perpetual lockdown;

(3) pre and post-Covid transit - in and out of the tube and trains inhabited by the chattering classes. It's expensive, dirty and exhausting. You are travelling for a living like a lorry driver but instead of transporting consumer goods to be enjoyed by hundreds and thousands of people, you are transporting pieces of paper which no one cares about; and

(4) you're not really your own boss, you answer to instructing solicitors who are demanding and obnoxious, whereas solicitor litigators generally have business people who don't understand the law and the litigation process, and would hence otherwise defer to them. No one defers much to a barrister except on research points.

Crypto new Bailey seems like a very odd set up , doing anything and everything with just one silk , and no pupils is probably a bit of a giveaway?? 

LPI/Biggie outer temple and Littleton are excellent sets with great bench strength across all their key disciplines. As I and others have said on here before, these sets have too much work rather than too little .

I did an assessed mini at Littleton, back in the day and my mini pupil master asked me to work on a set of papers at his desk whilst he went to watch the tennis . He was 15 years call and his practice was exclusively employment work. He is consistently ranked as a mid tier band in all the directories. His paying in book was on his desk and he was depositing between 30 and 40 k every month. That should give you a clue about the good , busy civil /commercial sets outside the so called MC sets . I also did an assessed at Hardwicke and my supervisor who was 10 years call practice was domestic commercial work ( mostly un-led) . She received 300k according to her chambers annual statement .


You seem to be mixing knock about take everything sets in a small city as against sets in London and the cities who have long well established pipelines of great work and clients. Those sets you band as tier 2-4 whatever that means  are very good busy sets on any construction. 

Lol at senior juniors at Essex court charging 300 quid an hour . More likely to be 400-600 depending on how demand said senior junior is .

(1) You admit to pilfering the papers of a barrister when rummaging through his files without his knowledge to extract personal and sensitive information. OK.

(2) You say at 15 years call, which is effectively equity partner in a law firm, he was making between 350-400 in one of his good years, and this was then subject to 30% of deductions, so he was making about 245 all in. I don't find this to be at odds with my previous conclusions and I comment that man for working so hard in such a competitive field for only that money at the end of the tunnel.

(3) You say someone of 10 years call was making 300k, and therefore on 210k after deductions. Again, this is in line with my conclusions on that matter. Generally speaking at Hardwicke you make 100k after first year and over 200k not long after, but then get stuck between 150-250 for many, many years. So said a senior junior and QC at those chambers to me. I recall a mate who was 10 years call at Hardwicke around 2003-5 and was making a bit under 200k. He was making about 150-200 generally from 2000-2007ish

So I am not stabbing blind in the dark.

1. Serle is up there with Wilberforce.

2. Littleton is a class outfit.

3. I am surprised people at Hardwicke are over 200k a few years after getting tenancy, that is a knockabout set.

4. Listen not to a word that ebitda says.

Spurious I don’t think you can class Hardwicke as a knockabout set 36 Group maybe . Agreed about Serle and Wilberforce , Maitland in that group also. I was telling the Op that Littleton is a superb set and doesn’t feel inferior to the so called MC sets, nor should they . See 4 New Square et al

LPA I said no such thing about pilfering papers u loon, and you are stabbing in the dark , maybe even worse 

who said it was a good year , FYI he was depositing that amount for years before. Drop the 30% thins please as everyone here ha said you should.

you do know that 10% includes PCs , IT , online resources , library, printing , marketing and BD events . Tenants are not spending thousands of their own cash on these things , it is funded along with other things by chambers contributions 

Having instructed barristers at most of the above sets they've usually been pretty good and haven't noticed a big difference in quality or cost between the magic circle sets and the others.