Solicitors, Barristers and other Legal Professionals
Do I need a barrister?
The term 'lawyers' can be used for both solicitors and barristers, both with separate but equally important roles.
In most instances solicitors offer legal guidance to anyone from victims of personal injury to criminals being held on trial – a solicitor's remit is to cover legislation, criminal trials and disputes and then prepare the case, and where necessary a barrister would then be later instructed to represent the defendant / claimant in court.
However, despite solicitor and barrister duties being simplified to in-court and out-of-court legal advice, it is not quite as simple as that all of the time, and there is an ever growing middle ground between the two positions.
It has been known for some solicitors to gain the authority to represent clients within the higher courts, while similarly statistics show an increasing number of barristers now offering legal advice out of court as well.
Whilst you may indeed require a barrister for your legal needs, you will most certainly require a solicitor prior to this stage, for which you will need to contact a solicitors firm. Once your case is under way it is commonplace for your solicitor, or solicitors firm, to put you in touch with a barrister should you need one.
In most cases solicitors’ firms are partnered or have close working connections with barristers, and will be able to put you in touch with the best professional for the case.
Some barristers do accept direct instruction, but it is advisable in general to go with whoever is appointed by the solicitor handling the case.
A barrister contacted directly is likely to come at a lower cost, however you will require a certain degree of legal know-how to go about your case and barrister instruction, as you are unlikely to receive administrative support from a barrister alone in the way that you would should you go through a solicitor firm.
Barristers: Qualified under a separate system of qualification and apprenticeships to solicitors, barristers are generally instructed for ‘in court’ legal proceedings, but have been known on occasion to advise the public on legal matters too.
Solicitors: Fully-qualified lawyers graduated from post-graduate education, encompassing a two-year on-the-job training period.
Most solicitors specialise in an area of law, however they are qualified to give general legal advice in most instances should they wish to.
Solicitors are also in some cases qualified to take claims to tribunals, county and magistrates courts, as well some cases to the ‘higher courts’.
Legal executives: primarily the same role as a solicitor, having qualified through similar examinations to that of most solicitors, whilst more often than not specialising in one particular area of law.
Paralegals: In broad terms, administrative staff specially trained within the field – although it is not required directly – ordinarily paralegals will hold a law degree or alternative legal qualification, but would not be qualified as a legal executive or solicitor, and may only offer legal advice under the supervision of a qualified solicitor.
Licensed conveyancers: Legal professionals who specialise solely in property transactions.
Will writers: As the name suggests, Will writers are legal professionals who specialise in helping individuals write and adjust their Will, avoiding the legal problems that can occur when a Will is written improperly.
Will writers are unique among other legal professionals, as their industry is unregulated, and they aren't technically required to have any training. However, it is highly recommended that you only hire a Will writer with training and experience specific to Will law.