What is the difference between a solicitor and a barrister?
Both solicitors and barristers fall under the generic term of ‘lawyers’, so what are the primary differences between these two types of lawyer?
A solicitor is a qualified legal professional who provides expert legal advice and guidance to clients.
The majority of solicitors in the UK are litigators; they work directly with clients and deal with the everyday running of a case.
The work that solicitors conduct will depend on their area of expertise, but will usually involve discussing matters directly with the client to obtain instructions, providing advice as to the law, dealing with all paperwork, and communications connected with the case and preparing papers for court.
Solicitors will conduct negotiations with the opposing party, with the aim of resolving matters.
If a case goes to court a solicitor will normally instruct a barrister to represent their client on the day of the hearing.
Solicitors are usually employed by a law firm.
A barrister is a qualified legal professional that provides specialist legal advice and represents clients in Courts and Tribunals.
Barristers also provide written legal advice, in complex or tricky cases, and can provide guidance as to the merits of the case.
Normally barristers are instructed by solicitors, to represent clients in court; they will conduct the advocacy in the case. Some barristers can be instructed by a potential client directly, under what is known as the Direct Access Scheme.
The vast majority of barristers are self-employed, and work within a Chambers.