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What Is the Difference Between a Barrister and a Solicitor?

Barrister or Solicitor? What's the difference?

Have you heard of the term barrister before? What about a solicitor? If you originally hail from outside of the United States, they you have probably heard those words referring to attorneys and know what they mean. However, if you are in the U.S., there’s a good chance you aren’t sure of the differences, even though you might have heard the words used on television, movies, the news, books, etc. It’s good to understand the difference between a barrister and a solicitor if you’re working in a legal profession.

In the United States, the terms barrister and solicitor are not used. Instead, those who practice the law are called lawyers or attorneys. However, in other places around the world that use common law, there is a difference between barrister and solicitor. For some, this can seem confusing since all attorneys in the United States are required to take and pass the bar exam and register with the Bar Association to practice law.

What Does the Term Barrister Mean?

One of the main roles of a barrister is to advocate for their clients during legal hearings. This simply means that they represent their clients in court, just as an attorney in the United States would do. They have knowledge of the law and can provide legal advice to their clients.

Typically, barristers don’t have as much contact with the public as a solicitor will have. Instead, they are provided the details of a case from a solicitor. They will then be provided time to review the case and prepare themselves for court. Many barristers are self-employed rather than working for an organization or a firm.

What Does the Term Solicitor Mean?

A solicitor is someone who is qualified to practice law and who typically handles cases involving things like immigration, civil law, personal injury law, and family law. They are responsible for the preparation of legal documents leading up to and during a case in court.

Most of the time, a solicitor will provide advice to their clients, help with negotiations, and will draft various legal documents. In some cases, they will represent their clients in court, but often, cases can be handled and settled before getting to that point.

Solicitors will often work for organizations, law firms, businesses, the government, etc.

Where Are the Terms Barrister and Solicitor Used?

Although these terms are not used in the United States, you will find that they are used in many other parts of the world. Some of the countries where they’re used, include the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, Germany, France, South Korea, Spain, India, Israel, and Canada.

Famous Barristers and Solicitors in Fiction

Some of the famous fictional barristers include Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities, Archie Leach from A Fish Called Wanda, and Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones’s Diary. As for solicitors, one of the most famous in fiction is Jonathan Harker, an English solicitor who traveled to Transylvania to conduct business with none other than Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s novel.

What Are Some of the Other Interesting Differences Between Barristers and Solicitors?

Regardless of whether someone chooses to become a barrister or a solicitor, their training tends to start the same way. They will need to have a qualifying law degree or a non-law degree and a law conversion course. Once this has been completed, they can then decide how they want to practice—as a barrister or a solicitor.

When someone chooses to become a solicitor, they will need to undergo specific training known as a Legal Practice Course and then take a solicitor’s qualifying exam to qualify.

To become a barrister, they will need to complete the vocational requirement of bar training after getting their degree or law conversion course. They will then do what’s called a pupillage for their first year. During that first year, they will shadow a working barrister to see how the process works. Once that year is up, they can get more heavily involved and take their own cases

When a solicitor goes to work, there isn’t a requirement to wear certain types of clothing. Of course, most will still dress in business attire, as that’s what’s expected.

Barristers, on the other hand, are required to wear certain things when they go to court in places like the UK. They are expected to be in traditional clothing for the court, meaning a long black robe, and a wig.

The gown, which is similar to what a judge might wear in the United States, is a mainstay amongst barristers. There are some instances, such as with some civil practitioners, where the wig is not required. However, it’s expected in most situations.

The wig is a holdover from a bygone era, but it does represent certain things for the court. In addition to being seen as a sign of respect for the court, it also separates the barrister from their normal attire. It essentially says that they are looking at the case from the point of the law and that they don’t have any personal attachments to the case.

For most, this is simply seen as being a uniform.

Why the Differences Between Countries?

Things in the United States are often a bit different from what you see in other countries. That’s certainly true with barristers, solicitors, and lawyers. The traditions of other countries, particularly England, were things that were phased out over the years in the new United States after the revolution.

If you are in Arizona or any part of the United States, you don’t have to worry about any of these differences. However, if you have a divorce that’s going to be a problem, you do need to think about hiring a quality attorney. You will want to make sure the attorney you choose has experience working with cases like yours.

If you are going through a divorce, you naturally need to have an attorney well-versed in this field. Fortunately, you can find some great Arizona attorneys who can help you from start to finish.

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