Striking junior barrister says ‘I earned £7,000 a year more as coffee barista’

A barista turned barrister is going on strike after revealing she earned £7,000 more a year making takeaway coffees.

Rosalind Burgin, 28, said she’s earning less than minimum wage on an annual salary of roughly £10,000 in her first year as a junior barrister.

The criminal defence barrister, who used to work in a coffee shop for 70 per cent more than that each year, said being a barista is also a more reliable job.

The lawyer from Manchester said the decision to strike in September, alongside more than 1,000 others, was heartbreaking but she had “no other option”.

Rosalind told the Manchester Evening News : “I love working in criminal defence, and it’s heart-breaking that we have to do this, but there are no options left now.

“It’s not just about the pay, the work is really unsecure as well. I’ve been in tough situations before, but I’ve never had as little job security as I do now.”

The thought of Rosalind’s client’s suffering is “gut-wrenching” she said – but said her job security is at an all-time low.

“At least working at a coffee shop you knew what you were getting and it was secure,” she said.

“I knew I would get paid for 10 hours work, whereas now I don’t know how much I’ll get for 10 hours.”

Rosalind says she is still waiting on payments for cases which finished in September last year.

Even more shockingly, she claimed colleagues with families are being forced out, because criminal defence work isn’t paying enough.

Rosalind added: “The amount of work that goes in to chasing fees is so draining.

“My friend has recently had a baby and he can’t do crime work because there’s not enough money for him to support his family.”

The junior defence barrister said she knew it wasn’t going to be easy and “pay was going to be tough” but thought it would be above minimum wage.

She said: “I thought I’d be comparable to some of my friends working in healthcare – who I completely support in their right to strike as well – but they’re still getting minimum wage, at least, I’m not.”

The public reaction to the strike has been largely supportive, with many calling on the government to act.

Rosalind has said the support has been “incredible” and “so many people seem to be on our side”.

“I’ve been saying to clients if a court date is on a strike day that I can’t come in, and they have been really supportive,” she said.

“One even said ‘good, you better not come in!’

“Support tends to increase after each strike – train strikes are good examples of that. Hopefully the government will listen to our demands.”