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In the UK, and a lot of countries touched by our legal process; there are barristers and solicitors. But if you're not familiar with the differences, chances are that you use these words interchangeably. Today, we’ll explore why they’re not the same and what qualities make a good barrister or a great solicitor so that you can better identify your own potential career path.
The role of a barrister
Barristers are specialist advocates and legal advisors. They primarily work in the higher courts of the UK and some Commonwealth countries. On any given day, they’ll give their legal opinion in writing or via interview and act on behalf of clients in court. They can specialise in specific areas of law like family or criminal cases. But they usually work alone as a sole trader or self-employed business owner. When you hire a solicitor, they’ll often hire a barrister on your behalf to do all the in-court representation. And if you watch a lot of television, these are the sorts of people you see arguing on behalf of their clients in a courtroom.
Core barrister skills
To be a good barrister, you need a solid understanding of the law, a lot of advocacy training and you’ll need to practise your persuasive communication. It’s a great role for you if you want to work on complex and contentious legal matters like criminal trials and appeals. And, it goes without saying, that you’ll need to be an enthusiastic, credible and captivating public speaker.
The role of a solicitor
In stark contrast perhaps, solicitors are legal professionals who provide a wide range of services to clients, but not in a courtroom, usually. This includes legal advice, legal documents and (sometimes) lower court representation. While you’ll still work directly with clients, it’s more administrative and advisory. There’s less parading around; lining up questioning to witness and that sort of puffery. You’ll dispense legal advice, handle transactions like purchasing a home on their behalf and other, more routine, legal matters.
You might do this from a law firm, in-house legal department or government agency. And it’s most likely that you’ll work for someone else. With your broad understanding of the law, you can deal with a range of issues. These might be commercial transactions, conveyancing, wills or family law.
Core solicitor skills
To be a great solicitor, you’ll need to understand a lot more of the law generally and have good attention-to-detail. You’ll need to like to work alone or with paralegals to refine documents and make advisory letters. It’s a great role if you want to help people but you don’t want to do much (if any) public speaking. Should one of your cases go to the high courts, you can hire a barrister to do that for you (and your client).
So, barrister vs solicitor - which best suits you? Are you leaning towards the lively life of a barrister or the consultative and scholastic focus of a solicitor? No matter which way you go, Bolton is the place to study law. We have amazing courses and a nurturing environment that’s truly #UniAsItShouldBe. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 1204 903774 to find out more.