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

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Ever wondered what the difference is between a solicitor and a barrister? Both are lawyers, however, there’s key differences regarding their training, the work they do (and don’t do) and how they’re regulated.

What is a solicitor?

A solicitor is a lawyer who advises clients on legal matters, draws up legal documents and represents clients in certain courts. They also sometimes instruct barristers to work with them on particularly complex or difficult matters.

What is a barrister?

A barrister also advises clients but represents them in all courts. They are generally instructed by solicitors but some are registered as ‘direct access barristers’, which means the public can contact them directly without going through a solicitor.

A Solicitor Advocate is a solicitor who has taken additional qualifications and can appear in all courts to represent clients.

Are barristers more qualified than solicitors are?

No. Barristers are not more qualified than solicitors.

It takes a total of six years to qualify as a solicitor and the quickest route to qualification is:

  • A three-year law degree
  • A post-graduate Legal Practice Course
  • Two years working as a trainee in a solicitors’ practice, i.e. a law firm

To qualify as a barrister, it takes five years and the quickest route is:

  • A three-year law degree
  • A post-graduate course at the Bar
  • One year working in a barristers’ chambers as a pupil

Are barristers more specialist than solicitors are?

No. Barristers will often specialise in a certain area of law, as is often the case with solicitors.  At Barcan+Kirby, for example, we have experienced solicitors who specialise in a whole variety of practice areas.

Are direct access barristers cheaper than solicitors are?

Barristers and solicitors will charge you for the legal work they do at different rates and so it’s not a simple answer. Some charge by the hour, others will give you a fixed fee. At Barcan+Kirby we will generally give you the choice of fixed fees or being charged by the hour. In every case, you will be charged for the legal work undertaken and kept informed about the costs throughout your case. Solicitors do not charge for administrative work.

How do I know if I need a barrister?

There may be some occasions where your solicitor will recommend involving a barrister in your case. In these circumstances, your solicitor and barrister will work together to ensure the best possible outcome to your case.

The legal team at Barcan+Kirby have excellent relationships with local barristers’ chambers, and in the event of you needing a barrister, we will be able to ensure that all your legal needs are taken care of. We will make sure the most appropriate barrister is instructed on your matter to ensure you continue to receive exceptional advice at all stages of your case.

Further information

Whether you are seeking legal advice regarding a personal or business matter, our specialist solicitors are here to help. We advise individuals and businesses across the UK from our offices in Bristol and the surrounding area, in Bedminster, Bishopston, Bristol city centre, Kingswood and Thornbury.

Get in touch today by calling 0117 322 6610 or fill out our online enquiry form.


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