Find UK People® have many Barristers and Solicitors as clients and we felt it would be appropriate to have an informative blog which outlines the difference between a Solicitor and 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.
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 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 is 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 specialise 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 that 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?
While a lot of people use the term 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 specialises 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 specialise in a certain type of law such as contract law, criminal law, common law, and so on. Solicitors do not usually have a speciality 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 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 employes 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 lawyer 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 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.