Difference between a solicitor and a barrister

Introduction – The Difference Between a Solicitor and a Barrister?

Want to learn what the difference is between a solicitor and a barrister?

Find UK People® has many Barristers and Solicitors as clients and we felt it would be appropriate to have an informative blog that outlines the difference between a Solicitor and a Barrister.

In the UK legal world, there are a number of career paths that you can take, and we are going to be looking at two of them down below. It might be the case that you have heard of both a solicitor and a barrister, but do you know what they are and what the difference between them is? We think that it is important to know this distinction which is why we are going to be looking at this down below.

Let’s take a closer look at what each job is, and then how they differ from each other in the legal industry. This article will detail the difference between a solicitor and a barrister.


What Is A Solicitor?

A solicitor is a legal practitioner who deals with most of the legal matters in a jurisdiction. To become a solicitor, you need to have legally defined qualifications and a deep understanding of the law to best advise clients. There are a number of routes that you can take to become a solicitor, and deciding which way to do this is a personal choice depending on your circumstances. To become a solicitor, you must have the necessary qualifications that allow you to legally give advice to clients.

One of the responsibilities that a person would have as a solicitor is advising clients on legal matters that are relevant to their case. This includes researching historical cases and the current law to give the most accurate and up-to-date information. As well as this, a solicitor could be responsible for drafting the necessary legal documents needed for a case. This could be any kind of legal document including a contract, and once this has been signed, making sure that it is implemented.

Where it is necessary, a solicitor may also represent a client in court, or pass instructions on to a barrister when a case reaches court. Communicating with the opposing solicitors and clients is also a large part of being a solicitor as well as taking instructions from their own client.

It is also the job of a solicitor to supervise trainee solicitors and paralegals to ensure that everything is being completed properly. This makes sure that the research and advice that is being given to clients are up to date and accurate, allowing them to provide the best service possible.

What Is A Barrister?

A Barrister is also a legal practitioner and is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdictions. Barristers specialize in litigation and courtroom advocacy. To become a barrister, you need to complete an academic stage of training, and then a work-based stage. Becoming a barrister is highly competitive and is a very difficult road.

A barrister is responsible for taking cases to superior courts and tribunals. Where a case needs to be taken to a higher court or a tribunal, a barrister will take the case rather than a solicitor or someone else in the legal profession. As well as this, it is the job of a barrister to conduct research surrounding the history, philosophy and hypothesis of the law so that they have a firm and in-depth understanding of what it means and how to use it to their advantage.

Barristers are also responsible for giving expert legal advice and opinions to clients. It is more common a solicitor will have already spoken to the client before a barrister does, however, sometimes it does just go straight to the barrister depending on the case. You will also find that barristers are the party responsible for drafting legal pleadings which are how a case is set out to the court.


What Are The Main Differences?

What is the main difference between a solicitor and a barrister?

While a lot of people use the terms barrister and solicitor interchangeably, it is not correct to do so. You have probably heard the term ‘lawyer’ used at some point, and this could refer to both a solicitor and a barrister. One of the main differences between the two is that a barrister is a type of lawyer that specializes in court litigation. This means that a barrister focuses on arguing and persuading in the courtroom to present the facts and win the judge or jury over to their side. A solicitor, on the other hand largely does not go into the courtroom to represent a client except where necessary, and instead provides advice, gathers evidence, writes legal documents, and conducts research. While there are exceptions to this in both cases, it is generally the idea that the barrister practices inside the courtroom, and a solicitor practices in an office.

A barrister will typically specialize in a certain type of law such as contract law, criminal law, common law, and so on. Solicitors do not usually have a specialty and deal with a broad range of clients and cases. The solicitor will brief the barrister on the case, and they will then provide a written opinion to the client regarding the strength of their case and give them advice on what to do next. The solicitor will have already given a certain level of advice and conducted research into the law surrounding the case, and then the barrister will be responsible for representing the client and the solicitor in the court by providing evidence, examining witnesses, and convincing the court why they should side with them. The barrister will also be responsible for negotiating settlements which is a big difference between a barrister and a solicitor.

A solicitor will liaise with their client and the opposing client to determine agreed objectives and then go on to coordinate the work of all parties who are involved in the case. The solicitor will likely see the clients far more than the barrister does in most cases as they will be supervising the implementation of agreements and working with clients to calculate damages. Where the solicitor gathers all of this information, the barrister is responsible for presenting it in a way that makes the courtroom want to be on their side.

There is also a difference in the training that you need for these two careers. To become a solicitor, you need to pass the Legal Practice Course and then a two-year training contract. However, if you want to become a barrister, you must complete the Bar Professional Training Course and then a one-year pupilage where you shadow another barrister.

You will also find that most solicitors are employed by law firms, where most barristers are self-employed. This is not always the case as some barristers are not self-employed and are instead employed in-house at a law firm or a large commercial corporation. Arguably, this means that solicitors tend to have more job security than some of the barristers who are just starting out.

Another big difference between a solicitor and a barrister is the amount of access that the public has to them. Anybody can contact a solicitor, but this is not always going to be true about a barrister. The only way you can go directly to a barrister for legal advice and representation is if they are a part of the Public Access Scheme. If they are not, then a client will need to go to a solicitor, who will then present all the facts and brief the barrister on the case.

Essentially then, the main difference between these two careers (the difference between a solicitor and a barrister ) is that one largely practices advocacy in the courtroom and the other is more office-based work. We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now have a better idea of what the difference is between a solicitor and a barrister.


How to become a solicitor

Do you want to know how to become a solicitor? Many of the clients of Find UK People® are solicitors so we felt it appropriate to discuss the routes available in the UK to become a Solicitor.

Becoming a solicitor is a significant career ambition that promises spectacular rewards, both personally and financially. But how do you actually become a solicitor in the UK? What process do you need to go through before you’re able to begin practicing? Let’s take a look. 



What Routes Are There To Become A Solicitor

Solicitors need to have the skills to provide sound legal advice to the people that they represent. Because of this, they need a deep and profound understanding of the law. 

It is a legal requirement in the UK for anybody to wanting to provide paid legal advice to complete specific qualifications. There are three main educational routes that a person can take on their way to become a solicitor. 



First Route: Complete A Law Degree And The Legal Practice Course

The first route of how to become a Solicitor, This route is the most common among young people wanting to go straight from their studies into the legal profession. The path comprises two components – the law degree itself and the Legal Practice Couse (LPC). 

Law degrees are academic qualifications that teach students about the practice, history, and concepts in law. While they are usually meant as a preparation for a law career, they do not in themselves grant a license to practice. A person could complete a law degree out of sheer interest without ever actually stepping inside a courtroom or representing a client. 

The LPC is a course and exam that aspiring solicitors must take before being allowed to practice law legally. Candidates who want to go through the LPC must first register with the Law Society and with the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority.

The purpose of the LPC is to take what a law graduate learned in their degree and supplement it with additional knowledge and practical application. The idea is to prepare students for the reality of practicing their profession with real clients. LPC courses operate across two stages. The first stage gives candidates a grounding in the three significant areas of law: business law, litigation (criminal and civil), and property law. It also builds on solicitor-specific skills, including writing, legal research, drafting, and advocacy. 

In stage two, candidates take electives based on the kind of law that they’d like to practice. These include things like housing law and practice, insurance law, and banking and debt finance law. 

The LPC costs between £9,000 and £16,765. Some candidates self-finance, and others get money from law firms that want to hire them full time on completion of their studies. The LPC tests candidates regularly with coursework and exams to check understanding and progress. Successful completion and passing of the course permit a candidate to begin practicing law. 



Second Route: Complete A Non-Law Degree, Then Take A Conversion Course Followed By The LPC

The second route for how to become a Solicitor, Some people who want to practice as a solicitor do not have a degree in law. The LPC, therefore, cannot serve as a bridge between their academic learning and their desired career. 

There is, however, a second route for people who find themselves in this category. Once a candidate completes a non-law degree in, say, Engish, they can then retrain and take the Common Professional Examination (CPE) or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). 

The CPE or GDL comprises practically the same elements as an undergraduate degree in law and serves as a qualifying legal degree for those who don’t have one already. 

It takes less time to complete a CPE/GDL than a traditional law degree. Full-time courses usually last around a year, while part-time courses take up to two years to complete. 

Just like with a regular undergraduate degree, those who pass the CPE/GDL are in a position to them take the LPC – the course that ultimately gives candidates the right to practice law. 

Candidates don’t have to take the LPC immediately after the CPE/GDL. They have up to seven years to use it to progress to the next stage. After that time, the CPE is considered stale, and candidates need to retake it. Once the CPE/GDL is complete, route two is the same as route one described above. 



Third Route: Become A Fellow Of The Chartered Institute Of Legal Executives While Working In The Legal Profession

The third route for how to become a solicitor is an option for candidates who do not have a degree to become qualified solicitors. Qualifying as a Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) solicitor has several requirements. 

First, you need to complete the CILEx “academic stage” of training. Specifically, this includes passing ten units of the CILEx Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice, and six units in the CILEx Level 6 Diploma in Law and Practice. 

The second requirement is that you have been in law-based (qualifying) employment for at least three years and have spent at least one of those in the Graduate membership grade of CILEx.

And the third and final requirement is that you meet various work-based learning outcomes. 

Once you complete the requirements and do the coursework, you’re then able to move to become a full-time practicing solicitor. It is an excellent opportunity for people who do not want to incur tuition fee debt and want to work alongside their training, paying for it as they go. 



What Can You Do Once You Qualify As A Solicitor

Once you’ve become a solicitor, what are you then allowed to do? The type of work that you end up doing will depend heavily on the route that you too through training. 


  • In-house legal advice. Many companies hire solicitors to provide them with legal advice. You could, therefore, work as a consultant alongside people in business, government, and the voluntary sector.
  • Commercial practice. Businesses need people with knowledge of tax law, employment law, and contract law. 
  • Private practice. You might get involved with family law, personal injury law, criminal litigation, or conveyancing. Many qualified solicitors set up their own private practices along with other legal professionals.
  • The Crown Prosecution Service. The authorities often employ solicitors to decide which cases they should bring to court. 


Solicitors and barristers are two distinct legal professions in the United Kingdom, each playing a vital role in the administration of justice. Understanding the difference between these two legal practitioners is crucial for anyone seeking legal assistance or considering a career in law. In this article, we’ll delve into the contrasting roles, training, and responsibilities of solicitors and barristers in the UK.


Section 2: Solicitors and Barristers

Solicitors: The Legal Generalists

Solicitors are often the first point of contact for individuals seeking legal advice and representation. They are legal generalists, responsible for a wide range of legal services. Here are some key aspects of the solicitor’s role:

1. Client Interaction: Solicitors directly interact with clients, offering legal advice, drafting legal documents, and representing them in various legal matters. These can include buying or selling property, family law issues, wills and estates, and even criminal cases.

2. Case Management: Solicitors manage the entire legal process for their clients. They investigate, research, and prepare cases, and they handle all communication with the opposing party and court.

3. Advocacy: While solicitors can represent clients in lower courts and some tribunals, they don’t typically advocate in the higher courts, such as the Crown Court or the Court of Appeal. Instead, they engage barristers for advocacy services when necessary.

4. Training: Becoming a solicitor requires completing a law degree or its equivalent, followed by a Legal Practice Course (LPC) or a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) for non-law graduates. Afterward, they must undertake a two-year training contract in a law firm before qualifying as a solicitor.

5. Regulation: Solicitors in England and Wales are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). This body ensures that they adhere to professional standards and ethical guidelines.


Barristers: The Specialist Advocates

Barristers, on the other hand, are specialist advocates who focus primarily on courtroom representation. Here’s a closer look at the role of barristers:

1. Advocacy: Barristers are experts in courtroom advocacy, representing clients in court, tribunals, and other formal legal proceedings. They argue cases on behalf of their clients and cross-examine witnesses.

2. Legal Advice: While barristers also provide legal advice, it typically relates to legal matters that require specialist knowledge or litigation strategy. Clients usually consult barristers through solicitors.

3. Independence: Barristers often maintain independence from clients and can’t be directly hired by the public. Solicitors instruct them when their specialist expertise is needed in a case.

4. Training: Becoming a barrister starts with an undergraduate degree, followed by the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). After completing this course, they undertake a period of pupillage, which includes training under the supervision of experienced barristers. Finally, they must secure a tenancy in a barristers’ chambers to practice independently.

5. Regulation: Barristers are regulated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB), which ensures they meet professional standards and adhere to the Bar’s Code of Conduct.


Collaboration and Distinct Roles

One of the essential aspects of the UK legal system is the collaboration between solicitors and barristers. While they have distinct roles and training, they often work together to provide comprehensive legal services to clients. Here’s how the collaboration typically works:

1. Solicitor-Barrister Relationship: When a client’s case goes to court, a solicitor will instruct a barrister. The solicitor provides the barrister with all the necessary information, documents, and evidence, and the barrister then prepares the case for court.

2. Solicitors as Gatekeepers: Solicitors act as gatekeepers to the legal system. They assess a client’s case and determine whether it requires the expertise of a barrister. In many instances, a solicitor’s knowledge and skills are sufficient to handle a case, especially in lower courts.

3. Cost Considerations: Engaging a barrister can significantly increase the cost of legal services. Therefore, solicitors often aim to resolve matters outside of court or represent clients in lower courts, reducing overall legal expenses.

4. Expertise Matters: Barristers are essential in cases requiring specialist knowledge or strong courtroom advocacy. Their expertise can be invaluable in complex criminal trials, high-stakes commercial disputes, and public law matters.



In summary, solicitors and barristers each have distinct roles in the UK legal system. Solicitors are the primary point of contact for clients, providing a wide range of legal services and managing cases, while barristers specialize in courtroom advocacy and provide expert advice when needed.

Both professions work together to ensure that clients receive comprehensive legal representation and that justice is served effectively and fairly in the United Kingdom.

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