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What do Barristers do?
Barristers are the professional lawyers who you see in wigs and gowns. They are hired to represent defendants and plaintiffs in higher courts. They are self-employed and have to take work based on the "taxi rank" principle, i.e. they take the first job that comes up.
Barristers have been in the news recently because of Government changes to legal aid (the money that the Government awards to people who cannot afford their legal fees). Many people believe that barristers are highly-paid "fat cats" (rich, fat gentlemen) where the reality is somewhat different, with 60% of barristers earning around the average wage of the UK.
The legal aid cuts will primarily focus on criminal barristers, who are some of the most poorly paid in the profession.
What do Solicitors do?
Solicitors are a person's first point of contact with a lawyer; so if you want to buy a house, get into trouble with the police or have a death in the family then you will visit your local solicitor. Every town and city in the UK has law firms with teams of solicitors. If the firm is small, a solicitor might work in several fields, but usually the firm is split into departments.
Solicitors are permitted to attend certain courts (and in some cases they can attend higher courts that were once just for barristers) and they are not usually self-employed. They will have a many more clients than a barrister.
How do they work together?
Barristers and Solicitors work in tandem to ensure that a client is effectively represented. Their history and roles is an interesting aspect of English law and our teachers enjoy teaching this aspect of the course in particular.
Frequently, we get the opportunity to speak with solicitors, barristers, judges, clerks and staff of various courts, chambers and law firms to get an inside view on the world of English law. It is a vital part of the course and serves as a valuable complement to the academic lessons that we offer.
Legal English Language School runs training courses in English Language for Law as well as TOLES Preparation and courses in legal writing skills. For further information, please contact 020 3566 0145, e-mail us or fill in the form on this page.
One of the first lessons that our Legal English language students study is to take a closer look at the English Legal Profession. The differerence between barristers and solicitors is something that many people struggle to understand.
This serves as a useful introduction to English law and if we can include a trip to a solicitors' firm or a barristers' chambers then that allows for the student to develop an even deeper understanding of the two professions.