It’s important to appreciate that in the UK there is a strict division between solicitors and barristers.
Once students complete their undergraduate degrees in Law or the Graduate Diploma in Law (to understand what this is, see my post “Did you know”), those who wish to become solicitors must undertake the LPC (Legal Practice Course), whereas those who wish to become barristers must undertake the BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course).
But what is the difference between the two?
There are a couple but the two most significant differences in my opinion are in terms of their job roles and how the employment works.
In terms of employment – solicitors are usually employed by law firms whereas barristers are usually self-employed. Barristers normally trade as sole-traders but they often come together under one roof called chambers and they share resources such as clerks and overheads. So it’s actually possible for two barristers who belong to the same chambers to be up against each other in court!
In terms of their job roles – solicitors spend a lot of time communicating with clients, assessing cases, dealing with the other parties solicitors and filing the necessary paper work. On the other hand, barristers represent their clients in courts and tribunals, draft court documents, and provide specialist legal advice on certain areas of the law.
It must be noted that the proportion of time spent on each of these varies depending on the type of law you choose to practice. A commercial barrister will not spend as much time in court as a criminal barrister.
For more information on the differences between the solicitors and barristers, I would recommend reading the article “what kind of lawyer do you want to be?” which can be found from the chambers student website.
*** note: I got the featured image from the Justice Gap website.