What Is the Difference Between A Solicitor, Barrister and Solicitor Advocate in the UK?

What Is the Difference Between A Solicitor, Barrister and Solicitor Advocate in the UK?

20-03-2020

In this article, we will focus on the key differences between Solicitors, Barristers, and Solicitor Advocates.

What is a Solicitor?

Solicitors are legally qualified, professional people. They provide legal advice to individuals, companies, groups, and even the government. 

Solicitors are sometimes called by the generic term, namely Lawyers. 

A Lawyer is a licensed legal practitioner, and a Lawyer can be a Solicitor or a Barrister. 

The Two Divisions of Work for a Solicitor

The contentious legal work which focuses on resolving disputes between two or more parties that usually can happen in a court or tribunal through litigation.

The non-contentious legal work that deals with any legal concerns or aspects of a client in terms of business or even personal matters. 

What does a Solicitor do?

The functions of a Solicitor are broad, and it only reveals the importance of having a Solicitor to assist you with your legal matters. 

Here are the primary work functions of a Solicitor:

• The Solicitor will, during the first consult, establish their suitability to assist the prospective client.

• The Solicitor will consult with their client, and they will then advise on the law, legal aspects, and strategy of their client.

• Solicitors work directly with the public. Some Solicitors have a general practice, and others specialize in specific fields of law, such as family law. 

• Solicitors are involved with all the paperwork while they handle a matter. 

• They will write letters, prepare pleadings, draft contracts, and assist with negotiations on their client's behalf. 

• They will also assist with the implementation of contracts, establish the quantum of the cases, and evaluate the merits of matters. Also, they will do legal research and supply opinions to their clients. 

• Many Solicitors will handle their Court matters and act as Advocates for their clients in Court.

• Solicitors cannot appear in the High Courts before they have undergone further training. 

•  If a Solicitor does not have the necessary experience or knowledge about a matter, they will generally refer the matter to a Barrister or a Solicitor Advocate. 

Solicitor Salaries

Newly qualified Solicitors in smaller practices earn salaries between £25,000 to £40,000.

The field of practice, and the area that you work in, determines to a large extent, how big the salaries being paid, will be.

Partners in big law firms often get paid more than £100,000 per annum, and equity partners also receive a share of the law firm's profits. 

What is a Barrister?

A Barrister primarily deals in courtroom advocacy, providing specialist legal advice, and represents clients in court hearings or provide written opinion.

Normally, Solicitors will instruct Barristers in the UK countries of England and Wales, to represent a client in Court, and the Barrister only becomes involved in a matter when advocacy in Court is required.

The Barristers are one of the greatest helps in the legal sector, due to their work flexibility.

Many clients and Law Firms have pointed out the significant contribution of Barristers for their businesses. 

Being self-employed is one of the dominant preferences of many Barristers since their work will mostly depend on a brief from a Solicitor. The Barristers also work in what they call 'chambers.'

The work of the Barristers on a day-to-day basis depends on their specialization. Many of them prefer to specialize in an area of law such as family, commercial, tax, and criminal.

As mentioned, the work of a Barrister usually depends on the Solicitor. The role of a Solicitor and a Barrister are connected yet different. Barristers may accept direct briefs from the public. 

Some Barristers work in-house for law firms, while some work for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The Difference between a Solicitor and Barrister

Solicitors have greater direct access to clients while the Barristers are rarely hired directly by the clients. However, the roles of Solicitors and Barristers are different.

The main difference between a Solicitor and a Barrister is that a Solicitor usually represents their clients out of Court, while Barristers mainly defend people in Court.

When a matter is very complicated or will be heard in the higher courts, such as the Court of Appeals, Supreme Court, Court of Session, High Court; it is usually a Barrister or a Solicitor Advocate that will represent the client in Court. 

In this, a Solicitor can appoint or instruct a Barrister to represent the client in Court.

The Work of a Barrister

A Barrister presents the client's case in Court before a judge and sometimes in front of a jury.

Here are the primary duties of Barristers:

• The Barrister provides expert legal advice to clients and the instructing Solicitor.

• They conduct research and prepare cases for trial.

• Barristers draft legal documents.

• They advise clients on their matters.

• They interpret the law and they provide legal advice for individual clients and businesses.

• Represent the clients in the Court by putting their client's case before the Court, by conducting examination in chief, cross-examination and generally persuading the Court to find in favor of their client.

• Negotiate settlements with the other side for their clients.

• A Barrister can also be engaged in the development or drafting of legal policy.

What is a Solicitor Advocate?

A Solicitor Advocate is a Solicitor who underwent further training in advocacy.

After they pass their additional training, they are granted the right to represent clients in the higher Courts. 

There is a great advantage for law firms if they let Solicitor Advocates do the work for their clients. This means that the law firm will no longer need to pay the Barrister's chambers or the Barrister.

The privilege significantly dwells in having the in-house Solicitor Advocates at the law firm to do the representation in courts at no additional cost.

The Solicitor Advocates have the full capacity to keep a case from the initial meetings or hearings all towards the highest Courts if it applies to the case. 

Becoming a Solicitor Advocate

Choosing to follow a path, so that you can work on the legal sector, to be able to work in litigation or the resolving disputes, can be a challenging path.

However, the challenge can be worth it since there are a lot of career advantages in this field. Let us mention that all large firms have a litigation department.

If you want to engage in being part of the higher courts, taking the Solicitor Advocate's path is an alternative route if you do not want to be a Barrister.

There can be some confusion on your part upon selecting the best career for yourself. In dealing with this, you can start by gaining some exposure and experience.

Check out the work and the primary responsibilities of each role until you find the best fit for you. Never be afraid to try and expose yourself to the real work environment.

Another critical factor that students can also consider is on becoming an intern on law firms and other legal service providers. This can be a great start, to encourage you more, to pursue what you want.

Barristers and Solicitor Advocates with about 5 years' experience can earn around £60,000 to £200,000 per annum. Senior Barristers and Solicitor Advocates can earn up to £1,000,000.

The careers of being a Solicitor, Barrister, and Solicitor Advocate are great opportunities with significant equivalent responsibilities. Each of these careers, are fundamental to the legal sector that, gives a lot of enjoyment and benefits.

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