The legal system can seem like a very complex beast, and if you are looking to hire a legal professional it’s important to know exactly who you are dealing with. For instance, lawyers and barristers are often mistaken for one another, and while their roles are similar, this article will demonstrate a few of the key differences.
The lawyer (or solicitor) is a professional whose focus is the preparation of legal paperwork and other documentation leading up to a court case or tribunal. As such, this role requires an extensive and well-rounded knowledge of the law. A lawyer is your best port of call when you are first considering initiating legal action.
The barrister, however, focuses primarily on representing their client in a courtroom or tribunal setting. Bearing this in mind, barristers are typically specialists in a particular aspect of the law, as opposed to the more generalized expertise of the solicitor. Training to become a solicitor is primarily examination-based, whereas barrister training factors in both examinations and a chambers pupillage, which involves shadowing other barristers
That is the basic difference between the two professions, however the delineation between them has become increasingly blurred in recent years. For instance, there are certain circumstances in which solicitors CAN represent their clients in court. In such instances, the lawyer would need to obtain “rights of audience.”
However, barristers are better-equipped to function in court at a higher level. Both roles function as advocates for their clients, but it is the form this advocacy takes that is the key difference. Lawyers, for example, can take a more neutral stance, negotiating a legal dispute between parties.
Barristers, however, Generally speaking, the lawyer serves as a “behind the scenes” figure, whereas the barrister acts as the “face” of a legal action, often presenting the lawyer’s findings as part of a court case.
A lawyer is someone who defends someone else when they’ve been accused of a crime. A barrister is the same, but in Britain. In America we have lawyers.
In Britain they have barristers.
What’s the difference?
It turns out that there is a difference between lawyers and barristers in some countries, but not in others.
For example: In the United States, “lawyer” and “attorney” mean the same thing, although an attorney is someone who has passed a special test to be allowed to practice law.
In England and Wales, there are two types of lawyers: solicitors and barristers. Solicitors stand outside the courtroom and do most of the legal work for their clients, such as reviewing documents and filing briefs with the court.
Barristers usually don’t work directly for clients; instead, they work for solicitors or sometimes for law firms. Barristers argue cases in court; most cases never go to trial but instead settle before trial, because barristers can negotiate with opposing counsel and reach agreements on behalf of their clients.
A similar distinction exists in Canada between “solicitor” and “barrister.” Solicitor is essentially interchangeable with attorney in both countries.