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What is the difference between a Solicitor and a Barrister?

What is a Solicitor?

solicitor is a registered legal practitioner who deals in the general aspects of giving legal advice and conducting legal proceedings for individuals and businesses. In order to become a solicitor a person must obtain legally recognised qualifications and obtain a practice certificate.

What does a Solicitor do?

Solicitors generally specialise in one or more areas and take instructions from clients within these specific areas. For example a solicitor who specialises in conveyancing will take instructions from clients wishing to buy or sell a property but this solicitor would take instruction regarding a criminal matter.

Typically a client will meet with a solicitor first to explain their legal requirements, the solicitor will then advise on the best course of action and discuss the associated costs of moving forward.

A solicitor can represent a client during negotiations or disputes where required unless the matter is referred to a court. In such cases a barrister will usually be used to take advantage of their specialist knowledge of the relevant area of law.

What is a Barrister?

A Barrister is a legal professional who specialises in courtroom advocacy and litigation. Whereas solicitors usually conduct transactional work at the request of a client, a barrister will rarely be instructed directly by a client instead they will be briefed by a solicitor.

Barristers are regulated by the Bar Standards Board and are members of one of four Inns of Court ( The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn, The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, and The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple). Law graduates wishing to become a barrister must take the Bar Professional Training Course, once completed they are “called” to the bar by their ‘inns’ and are officially named a barrister.

What does a Barrister do?

A Barrister will be briefed by a solicitor to represent their client in court. It is the barristers job to put the client’s case forward in a structured manner so that they can obtain the best result for their client. Much like solicitors Barristers usually choose an area of law to specialise in, for example criminal law or family law (divorce etc)

The Barrister advocates for the client in court by presenting their case, talking to witnesses (known as examining or cross-examining) and explaining to the court why their client’s version of events or situation should be supported. Where a settlement is to be agreed the Barrister will negotiate on behalf of the client.

Barristers are most commonly self employed, working from “chambers” which is the term used to describe their offices. Multiple Barristers may work from a single “chambers” although each Barrister remains independent and can even be instructed on either side of a single case. In contrast two solicitors who work at the same firm are not able to sit on each side of a single case.

Barristers are referred to cases by solicitors using what is known as the Cab Rank Rule which is defined as “the obligation of a barrister to accept any work in a field in which they profess themselves competent to practise, at a court at which they normally appear, and at their usual rates”


John Barkers Solicitors are a law firm established in 1884 with offices supporting Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Mablethorpe, Louth, Scunthorpe, Hull, Lincoln and Doncaster