What’s the difference between a Solicitor, Lawyer and Barrister?

Martin Astle, Solicitor and Director at Astle Paterson seeks to explain the difference between a Solicitor, Lawyer and a Barrister.

Martin said “The word lawyer is a general term used to describe anyone who gives legal advice or has knowledge in one or more areas of law.

Therefore all Solicitors and Barristers are lawyers.

In England & Wales, a Solicitor is a qualified legal professional who is able to provide advice and assistance on matters of law.   Solicitors are usually employed by a firm.

The type of work carried out by a Solicitor depends on their area of expertise, but in general, unlike Barristers, Solicitors deal directly with their clients.

This may include Solicitors taking instructions from their clients and advising on a suitable course of action.   A Solicitor is likely to draft documents, letters and contracts, negotiate with clients and other professionals and research documents and case law.

Whilst Solicitors are able to represent their client in Court, they will often instruct Barristers to appear in Court on more complex matters.”

Martin continued “By contrast, Barristers are qualified legal professionals who in general specialise in appearing at Court.

The majority of Barristers are self-employed and are grouped together with other Barristers in offices known as Chambers.   They are usually hired by Solicitors to represent the Solicitor’s client in Court.

Barristers take instructions from clients and their Solicitors, prepare cases and legal arguments for Court, represent clients, present arguments in Court and cross-exam witnesses.”

Martin concluded “Being a lawyer is a fulfilling role – whether that involves dealing with clients on a day-to-day basis as a Solicitor would or through standing up in Court on a regular basis arguing your client’s case as a Barrister would.”

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