About the Bar Association

The New South Wales Bar Association is a professional association for practising barristers and associate members, such as clerks and judges. We are an Australian public company (ACN 000 033 652), limited by guarantee and governed by our Constitution

Our registered office and principal place of business is in Selborne Chambers, B/174 Phillip Street, Sydney, NSW 2000

We promote the public good in relation to justice and the provision of legal services. This is achieved by promoting and maintaining the highest standards of excellence among local practising barristers. In pursuit of this objective, the New South Wales Bar Association: 

  • Carries out its regulatory functions through the work of the Bar Council and its committees
  • Co-ordinates pro bono or reduced-cost legal services to underprivileged sections of the community
  • Operates the Bar Library
  • Makes submissions and provides advice to government and government agencies on specific legal policy and practice issues as they arise;
  • Works with media organisations and other bodies in order to disseminate to the public the Bar Association's position on key issues
  • Appoints senior counsel (SCs), barristers who have demonstrated outstanding skill as advocates and advisers in the administration of justice
  • Promotes diversity and equality at the bar through its Best Practice Guidelines and other policies
  • Monitors educational qualifications and entry requirements via its Education Committee
  • Organises the Bar Exams and the Continuing Professional Development Program (CPD) 
  • Supports the standards of practising barristers by running the Bar Practice Course, the Ethical Guidance Scheme and the Mentoring Program
  • Assists in matters of professional discipline of members and the resolution of complaints against them through the work of Professional Conduct Committees and the Bar Council
  • Maintains a Professional Standards Scheme
  • Supports the wellbeing of its members

Membership

The Bar Association has 3204 members, 2398 of whom hold a New South Wales barrister's practising certificate.  Among our non-practising members are 183 judges, 191 inter-state and overseas barristers, as well as 294 retired judges and barristers.

Life members

The Bar Council appoints life members for 'exceptional service to the Bar Association or to the profession of the law'. As at 24 March 2021 life membership has been awarded to  77 members of the association.

The Bar Council 

The Bar Council is our governing body, comprised of  21 barristers elected by the membership. The Bar Council, in turn, elects a president, two vice-presidents, a treasurer and the honorary secretary.

The Bar Council is the designated local regulatory authority for a range of functions under the Legal Profession Uniform Law. Those functions have been delegated.

Committees

The Bar Council is assisted by specialist committees comprised of barrister-volunteers, who offer their skills and expertise for the benefit of the public and the profession. Committees regularly advise and assist the Bar Council in matters of law reform and public affairs, including responding to matters of public policy and the administration of justice. This can involve providing expert commentary to ministers, members of parliament, government and parliamentary committees and law reform agencies. Learn more here.

Our Strategic Plan 2021-25

Our Strategic Plan for 2021-25 sets out our objectives for a time of disruption in the market for legal services.

Our Reconciliation Action Plan

Our Reconciliation Action Plan is available here.

Our history

On 22 October 1936 the New South Wales Bar Association was incorporated and the first meeting of the Council of the New South Wales Bar Association took place. The Memorandum and Articles of Association noted that the Bar Association would make suggestions on legislation, court rules, procedure and business. The memorandum also noted that a library would be established, together with reading, meeting, and dining rooms, and power to undertake law reporting, printing, publishing and bookbinding.  Learn more about our history.

Annual reports

Our annual reports include highlights of the year, appointments, membership statistics, financial statements and reports from various departments, committees and working parties of the Bar Association.