• Home ·
  • Legal ·
  • What Is The Difference Between A Solicitor And A Barrister?
  • 11Jan

    What Is The Difference Between A Solicitor And A Barrister?

    Whilst solicitors and barristers both fall under the ‘lawyer’ category, there are crucial differences in the work that they do. Whilst solicitors generally work for individuals and corporate clients, barristers mainly give advice on legal difficulties which are passed to them by solicitors and present cases in higher courts as well as lower courts. Barristers and solicitors are not deemed to be superior or inferior to one another as the work that they do is very different.

    The training undergone by barristers and solicitors is also different. Both types of lawyer have to pass professional qualifications but whilst a solicitor takes on a two-year apprenticeship, known as ‘articles’, a barrister works through an apprenticeship for one year. A solicitor remains supervised for three years once the apprenticeship comes to an end.

    Court and pre-court
    Barristers are self-employed, though they do work together as teams which are known as chambers. However, barristers working in the same chambers can work on different sides of the same case, whereas teams of solicitors have to stick to the same side of a dispute due to their lack of independence. Also, whilst barristers tend to specialise in one area, a solicitor’s work is more general and will involve working out the logistics of a case from its foundations, clearing up the administrative tasks, and liaising with the solicitors on the other side of a case before communicating with a barrister when needed, for advice or for client representation.

    Generally speaking, a solicitor deals with pre-court matters and offers a client advice, whilst a barrister will represent the client should the case reach court. A solicitor will not always attend court should a case reach that stage, though when they do appear it is generally to support the barrister, usually with files on hand in case the barrister needs any information in particular.

    Differences in cost
    Barristers are paid differently to solicitors too. Whilst they are usually paid fixed amounts for the tasks they do, a solicitor will be paid by the hour. Another reason why a solicitor may not attend court is that, because they are paid by the hour, this will make events more expensive and because a barrister can usually work effectively without the presence of a solicitor. However, a client cannot instruct a barrister directly and will generally have to ask the solicitor to do this for them. A new scheme called ‘public access’ has enabled a small number of clients to instruct a barrister directly but this is still a rare occurrence and can only really come into play when a client is essentially acting as their own solicitor.

    Impartial integrity
    Whilst a case may be passed through a number of different barristers, the solicitor generally remains the same throughout. This is because barristers cannot guarantee their availability for engagements that may occur at very short notice whilst a solicitor is paid to deal with all occurrences within a case as they come to light. Barristers have to stick to commitments they have already made and cannot cancel one commitment in place of another. This means that their integrity and impartiality remains robust.

    Both solicitors and barristers play vital roles in the UK’s legal system. If you need to find a solicitor or hire a barrister, there are a number of high street law firms as well as hundreds online where you should be able to find the exact service your case needs.

    Written by James Sheehan, a passionate blogger with past legal experience