Should you choose a Barrister or a Solicitor?
If you need legal help and are unfamiliar with the processes involved, there are different options you can choose from. Both solicitors and barristers have important roles to play. We take a look at the differences between them to enable you to make an informed choice.
In the English and Welsh legal system barristers are advocacy specialists. This means that they support and represent individuals or organisations and outline their case in a court of law. They are generally perceived as wearing wigs and gowns in court, either prosecuting or defending their clients and, while that is generally true of criminal barristers, they are also involved other areas of practice such as civil, family or commercial law.
They are licensed to practice in the High Court, County Courts and some tribunals, although this represents only a small part of what they do. The majority of their work is concerned with advising their clients, drafting documents for court, providing written advice and preparing submissions and agreements. They are also usually skilled negotiators and can be involved in mediation before a case goes to court.
Most barristers are self-employed and work with a set or chambers. They can also employed by, for example, the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service), within the government legal service or in public or private institutions such as charitable organisations.
As independent sources of legal advice they can provide advice to clients on their individual cases and can be hired by a firm of solicitors to represent clients in a court case if advocacy is needed. Barristers can also be approached directly by members of the public under the Public Access Scheme.
Solicitors also provide support and advice for clients, who can range from individuals to private or public sector companies. The advice they offer can include areas such as personal matters (divorce and family matters, buying and selling property, wills and probate, personal injury and criminal proceedings), commercial work (business-related disputes and corporate and new business advice) and compensation-related issues.
Typically, solicitors work in-house for a commercial firm, private practice, national or local government or for the court services. Depending on the nature of their employer, their work will reflect their specific areas of practice. Typically, it will involve meeting clients to establish if their firm is suitable to handle the client’s case, outlining how much the work will cost, taking instructions and advising on the legal issues surrounding their individual circumstances.
They will also prepare any papers, such as letters, documents or contracts on their client’s behalf and prepare ‘bundles’ which a barrister will use in court. They also hire or instruct barristers to appear in court and may appear in court themselves to represent their clients.
The British justice system is said to be the best in the world, with its reputation for fairness and emphasis on what is ‘reasonable’. It is reassuring for members of the public to be assured that all lawyers, whether barristers or solicitors, have to uphold a strict code of conduct to maintain their practicing standards.
If you are seeking legal advice visit http://www.hylton-potts.com for a good example of a professionally run legal practice which maintains the highest standards possible.