The difference between a barrister and a solicitor is a common question as most people don’t seem to understand what both professionals do. There are many differences between a solicitor and a barrister. Larger companies usually work with barristers like Barrister Support Services Inc. Knowing the difference will help you understand the services each offers and know where to turn whenever you need it. We will begin by defining both professions.
Who is a Barrister?
A barrister is a legal professional who provides specific legal advice to clients. A barrister will also represent, advocate and defend a client in a court of law whenever necessary. Many barristers specialize in only one branch of the law. However, some barristers focus on several areas to have access to a bigger pool of clients.
Who is a Solicitor?
A solicitor’s job is to prepare legal documents in the process leading up to a court case. They are legal professionals and can offer legal advice to clients on several branches of the law, whether a case is disputable or not. Now that you know what a barrister and a solicitor are, below are the differences between a barrister and a solicitor.
The main difference between the work of a solicitor and that of a barrister is that the latter practices law as an advocate for various clients, whereas the former focuses on legal work in a law firm.
As it pertains to advocate work, the definitions have become fuzzy in the recent past because both are qualified to offer legal advice. However, a solicitor has to obtain what is legally called ‘rights of audience’ to represent a client in court.
In such a case, a solicitor can perform the same work as a barrister. The difference is that a barrister will work in a higher level of the court than a solicitor.
Even though a solicitor may gain ‘rights of audience’ and represent clients in court, they will still often do most of the hard work behind the scenes.
Slight differences exist in the education and training of a barrister and a solicitor. Knowing the differences will be particularly helpful to those who want to join either profession.
Both a solicitor and a barrister have to complete a qualifying law degree or a non-related degree, then a law conversion course. Once you complete either, you will have to choose whether to become a barrister or a solicitor.
It is mandatory for a solicitor to complete a one to two-year vocational course referred to as the Legal Practice Course (LPC) after your LLB or GDL degree. You will also require a two-year training contract after that.
You may also have to take a solicitor’s qualifying exam to be fully qualified.
To become a barrister, you must complete a vocational component of bar training. You complete your LLB degree or law conversion course. You will then have to undergo a one-year pupillage in chambers. The pupillage involves being an apprentice to a qualified barrister before starting any work in chambers.
Public Access Differences
Another difference between a barrister and a solicitor is the access members of the public have to them. Anyone can contact and hire a solicitor at any time, but the same cannot be said of a barrister.
If you have a simple case, the public can access a barrister if they utilize the Public Access Scheme. You also cannot generally access a barrister for cases funded via legal aid.
Work Pattern Differences
Barristers are self-employed professionals with their own section in chambers. One barrister may share their chambers with other barristers, given they work on their own account.
On the other hand, solicitors who work for law firms or commercial organizations are part of their company, can be treated as any other employee, and receive the same benefits such as a salary, paid vacation, sick pay, and medical insurance.
Barristers often have less job security because they lack access to work benefits like medical insurance. However, they do have more work freedom than solicitors. A barrister also earns more money than a solicitor in most cases because they charge higher fees for their services. The more senior and experienced a barrister becomes, the higher they can charge for services.
There are significant differences between a solicitor and a barrister. The above includes most of the differences, but others, such as their workwear and experience opportunities. However, you should know enough to differentiate the two.