What Is The Difference Between a Lawyer, Solicitor, Attorney, and Barrister?
You’ve probably heard the terms lawyer, solicitor, barrister, and attorney before, either as part of a legal activity or on television. Since they are all part of the legal profession, you might thing the terms are interchangeable, but there are critical differences between the four we will explore in this article.
What Is A Lawyer?
A lawyer is anyone who has obtained a legal qualification. This is usually a Bachelor of Laws or a Juris Doctor degree, which provides them with the necessary legal training to provide legal advice. Therefore, the term lawyer is a generic term for all members of the legal profession and applies to both solicitors and barristers.
As in other fields, such as medicine, lawyers (both solicitors and barristers) may specialize in a particular field of law. For example, family lawyers deal with issues such as prenuptial agreements and child custody. On the other hand, a criminal lawyer deals with criminal cases involving clients accused of crimes such as assault or rape.
You do not have to practice in court to be considered a lawyer; you can be a consultant or an adviser.
What Is A Solicitor?
A solicitor is a qualified legal professional responsible for drafting legal documents and representing and defending a client’s legal interests. As a Solicitor, you will provide specialized legal advice in various legal areas and act directly for a wide range of clients.
The duties of a solicitor fall into the following areas: Resolving disputes between two or more parties, usually in court or through alternative dispute resolution processes such as arbitration or mediation, or addressing a client’s personal or business needs from a legal perspective.
What Is An Attorney?
The term “attorney” comes from French and means “to act on behalf of others”. The term “lawyer” is an abbreviation for the official word “attorney at law.” An attorney has law certification and practices in court. Passing the bar exam is a requirement for attorneys, giving them the right to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. Attorneys must adhere to a code of ethics and can practice in civil and criminal courts.
What Is A Barrister?
Barristers are pretty much experts in a particular field of law. If we were to use the analogy of healthcare, you can think of your solicitor as your general practitioner, and the barrister would be the specialist that comes in to consult on highly complicated issues.
When it comes to complicated matters of law that might be outside the experience or purview of your solicitor, this is when he or she will call in a barrister – as a client, you won’t be involved in the process, but will indirectly benefit from the expertise of the barrister.
Barristers handle a number of things when being called in on a case: they will assist your solicitor with preparing court documents, provide advice on how to proceed with the case and prepare pleas for the hearing. Barristers can also be called on to give expert testimony in some instances.
How does one become a barrister? To continue our analogy from before, in very much the same way a general practitioner becomes a specialist doctor. Solicitors are required to gain further experience and adhere to the requirements of the state bar association before they are allowed to sit the appropriate bar exam to become barristers.
We hope that the information in this article has gone some way to explaining the differences between solicitor, barrister, attorney and the blanket term of a lawyer. Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have details you’d like to add or have cleared up.