What’s the difference between a solicitor and a barrister? For those who aren’t sure what it takes to become an attorney, you can find out more about the differences between a barrister and a solicitor here.
What Does a Barrister Do?
Lawyers who practise as barristers are licenced to represent, advocate for, and defend the interests of their clients in a court of law or a tribunal.
For the most part, barristers specialise in a single area of the law, but some choose to specialise in more than one area. In this guide, we’ll show you how to become a barrister.
What Exactly Is a Solicitor?
In the event of a court case, a solicitor is a qualified legal practitioner who is responsible for drafting legal documents. Solicitors provide their clients with specialised legal advice on a wide range of legal matters, including both contentious and non-contentious matters.
The Work of a Solicitor vs a Barrister
While barristers are more likely to practise in the courtroom, solicitors are more likely to work primarily in law firms and offices. There are, however, a few notable exceptions to this generalisation in both scenarios mentioned above.
There has been a blurring of the lines between the two professions in recent years, from an advocacy perspective.
In order to represent their clients in court, lawyers can obtain “rights of audience.”
While solicitors can perform some barrister functions to a certain extent, the barristers are able to work in a significantly higher court than their solicitor counterparts.
When it comes to ‘behind-the-scenes’ tasks like these, most solicitors do not have rights of audience.
Providing legal guidance to those who seek their assistance.
Making an effort to reach agreement between two or more people on a legal matter
Preparation and review of legal documents, such as agreements
Training as a Solicitor vs. a Barrister
As soon as you have earned a law degree, or a non-law degree followed by a law conversion course (such as the GDL), it is time to choose between a career as a solicitor or a barrister.
Legal Education and Training
Solicitors must currently complete a two-year training contract after completing an LLB or GDL and a two-year vocational course called the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
To become a solicitor in 2021, you must pass the Solicitors Qualifying Exam.
Training as a Lawyer
On the other hand, becoming a barrister necessitates completing bar training’s vocational component after earning your LLB or completing a law conversion course.
In order to become a barrister, one must complete a one-year clerkship in a barristers’ chambers. Pupillage consists of shadowing a barrister before getting involved in the practical work of chambers.
Work Patterns of Solicitors and Barristers: A Comparison
Law firms and corporations employ the vast majority of solicitors as “in-house” counsel. As an employee, they are entitled to a salary, vacation pay, sick pay, and other benefits. It’s clear that this provides a lot of stability in terms of employment.
A barrister is a self-employed lawyer who works in a chambers with other barristers who are also self-employed.
Barristers who work for themselves face greater income uncertainty, and they are not compensated for time off for vacation or illness.
While this becomes less of a problem for more experienced barristers who can charge higher fees, it can be a real obstacle for those who are just starting out.
Barristers, on the other hand, are not always employed as sole practitioners. It is possible for barristers to be employed “in-house” by law firms or large commercial organisations (such as the Government Legal Service), which eliminates the risk of working for oneself while also providing a steady income and benefits.
Access to the Public for Solicitors vs. Barristers
Solicitors can be contacted at any time by the general public. Barristers aren’t always like this.
Barristers are available to members of the public who go through the Public Access Scheme if the case is relatively straightforward.
All barristers’ work is open to the general public, except for legal aid-funded work. It is also unlikely to be appropriate in cases where children are involved.
Differences in the Way People Dress for Work
Traditional court attire for a barrister included a long black robe and a wig, which were expected to be worn in court.
Barristers are still expected to wear suits and ties, but the number of those who don’t is on the rise. Among these are some civil practitioners.
There is no dress code for a solicitor. It’s fine to wear a smart outfit!
Opportunities for Work Experimentation
For those who want to become a barrister, the work experience they need is different from the work experience they would need if they were hoping to become solicitors.
Solicitors-to-be might look into vacation schemes or other opportunities to gain experience in a law firm environment. On the other hand, aspiring barristers might look into a mini pupillage as a form of work experience. Our guide to legal work experience has more information.