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There comes a point in almost everyone’s life when they will need to use the services of a lawyer of some sorts. It is at this time, quite often, that familiar questions arise. What is the difference between a lawyer and a solicitor? Or what is the difference between a lawyer and a barrister? Is there even a difference?

Well the quick and simple answer to that is no.

What is a lawyer?

The term lawyer itself is used generically and has no official legal definition, just interpretations. A common explanation of a lawyer is a person whose profession is to represent clients in a court of law or to advise or act for clients in legal matters. A lawyer is an all encompassing term that is frequently used to describe anyone in the United Kingdom that is qualified to share legal advice.  Barristers and solicitors would fall under this description of a lawyer.

What’s is a solicitor?

Solicitors are defined as confidential legal advisers, of whom will interact with their clients, providing legal advice and support. Solicitors are qualified professionals, who can represent individuals, groups, companies or organisations.

What does a solicitor do?

When a legal problem arises for an individual or company, the first point of contact will in most cases be a solicitor. This is because solicitors are qualified legal professionals who are able to dispense legal advice. The solicitor will take instructions from clients in regards to queries or assistance they will need. At Kang & Co Solicitors, one of our solicitors will give 15 minutes initial advice free before taking on the potential client on a paid fee or hourly basis.

After initial legal advice is given,  the solicitor will then recommend to clients the best course of legal action to take. Different solicitors will usually have a specialist area of law they are highly accomplished in. For example, Kang & Co Solicitors have specialist solicitors that deal with Motoring Offence cases such as speeding, totting-up bans, dangerous driving, drink driving and much more. Cases that involve solicitors can range from high value commercial cases, through to contesting a will, unfair dismissal,  and personal injuries to name just a few.

After legal action on a case has been initiated, solicitors can then deal with all stages of the litigation on behalf of their clients. As cases progress, a competent solicitor will regularly review the case and advise their clients of their prospects as legal action advances.

A solicitor will tend to deal with all the paperwork and communication involved with their clients’ case. They may also draft contracts and other paperwork for the proper preparation and disposal of legal disputes. Solicitors are usually office based, but do sometimes venture out the office to represent their clients at Court Hearings. However this role is usually filled by a barrister, instructed by a solicitor.

Solicitors will be able to assist clients in achieving settlements where desirable and will gather evidence where necessary. Should a legal issue result in a court hearing, a solicitor will have undertaken all the necessary work to prepare for the hearing.

What is a barrister?

A barrister can also be called a lawyer and like a solicitor can offer expert legal advice to clients. A barrister will regularly represent their clients in Courts and tribunals.

What does a barrister do?

A barrister usually becomes involved in a legal case when instructed by a solicitor. It is possible to instruct a barrister without a solicitor under the Direct Public Access Scheme, but this is not the common route.  A solicitor will usually instruct a barrister on an active case when the client(s) are required representation at a Court hearing. Barristers are skilled, persuasive advocates that will endeavour to present their clients case in the best possibly light.

Just like solicitors, barristers will usually work within their area of expertise, which may be relatively broad such as Commercial Law, Chancery Law, Criminal Law, Family Law, Immigration Law and Personal Injury amongst others.

Barrister can and will likely provide written thoughts on the strengths of a clients case and will advise as to whether disputes should be fought or settled. Barristers will be a proponent of their clients and clients solicitors at court. They will present their case in court, examining and cross-examining witnesses if there are witnesses involved, and will put forward information and reasons as to why the court should support their case. For example, in a criminal case, a barrister will take note of the strength of evidence for or against their client and inform them of the likely sentence they will receive in the event of a verdict or guilty plea.

Both before a case gets to Court, and at the Court hearing itself, Barristers can negotiate on behalf of their clients to bring about a favourable settlement. In cases which progress to a fully contested trial, Barristers will provide full advocacy services including examination in chief, cross examination and closing submissions.

Most Barristers are self-employed and work with other Barristers in offices known as ‘Chambers’. To qualify as a Barrister, you must hold a Law Degree, a qualifying post graduate Professional Qualification, and have been Called to the Bar. Thereafter, Barristers must undertake a pupillage which consists of a 12-month period of training. Barristers thereafter take up a tenancy within a Chambers.

Barristers within a Chambers are all independent from one another. They may act against each other on the same dispute without any conflict of interest arising.

In Conclusion

Is there a difference between a lawyer and a solicitor? 

No, a solicitor is a type of lawyer.

Is there there a difference between a lawyer and a barrister?

No, a barrister is also a type lawyer.

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