Barrister Wigs

If you watch a British law TV show, you might see the lawyer (barrister) or the judge wearing a wig. They still wear them today in court.They are made of horsehair. Women do not have to wear wigs but usually wear their hair in the style of the wigs.

It is thought that people used to shave their heads to reduce the spreading of lice and began to wigs instead around 1680. Barristers wear small half wigs and judges wear the bobwigs. The longer wigs are only worn for ceremonies.

The Royal Court of Justice has a great display of the wigs. It is free to visit and you can sit in on trials.

Why do they wear wigs? Louis XIII started the trend in 1624 as he was balding and it caught on. It was to allow them to hide themselves and distance themselves from the case. They are also a badge of honour and junior barristers can't wait to have them.

Some other traditions:
  • Barristers bow to the judge whenever they enter or leave a courtroom (I saw this when I had to go to court for my rearlights in Bury St Edmunds- I got it fixed and did everything correctly but the police forgot to ask for some paperwork.) They do not bow to an empty courtroom.
  • Barristers don't carry briefcases even though their written instructions are called briefs.
  • A judge is never left in the courtroom alone, one barrister will always stay with the judge.

All the Best!

American to Britain