Solicitors advocates and barristers are two different types of qualified legal professionals who perform distinct roles in a legal environment and use their skills and expertise to support their clients. Read on to find out more about the differences between the two types of lawyers.
Barristers are legal practitioners that advocate and defend their clients during court proceedings. Similarly, solicitor advocates advise and support their clients on both contentious and non-contentious legal matters. Solicitor advocates and barristers are knowledgeable about a variety of different legal sectors but normally specialise in a particular area. Solicitor advocates, for example, have specialist knowledge of criminal or civil law, in particular.
Solicitors mainly work in a law firm or as part of a company’s legal team and do not work in a courtroom. On the other hand, solicitor advocates combine the roles of barrister and solicitor to work in a law firm while also representing their clients in a court of law. While solicitors can also request ‘rights of audience’ to allow them to represent their clients in court in one-off cases much like a barrister, solicitor advocates can raise their issues to higher levels of court much like barristers.
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The main difference between solicitor advocates and barristers is that solicitor advocates are employed by a firm and receive the benefits associated with this such as a regular income and paid sick leave and holidays. Barristers, on the other hand, are often self-employed, working through a chamber, and are paid through the fees they charge clients although they can also sometimes be employed by a firm.
Barristers are also assigned specific court attire and are required to wear a long black robe and wig. Queen’s Counsel barristers wear silk robes while all other barristers are required to wear wool robes. Solicitor advocates, on the other hand, do not have a specific uniform and normally dress in professional business attire.
Solicitors advocates and barristers also vary in regard to their access and interaction with the public. Barristers are normally given the details of a case and information prepared by a solicitor to then represent the client in court with limited interaction with them themselves. Solicitor advocates engage with their clients extensively in preparing the details of a case and then also defend their clients.
The pathways to becoming a solicitor advocate and barrister differ significantly as they have different requirements. Both solicitor advocates and barristers follow the same initial foray into the legal sphere by completing a law degree or a law conversion course following a non-law degree.
After this, solicitor advocates will complete a Legal Practice Course (LPC) spanning between one to two years in order to specialise as a solicitor advocate. This is followed by a two-year training contract with a law firm where you complete ‘seats’ to gain experience in different areas of law. From 2021 the SQE will be a necessary component of solicitor training. Aspiring solicitor advocates can then take a Higher Rights of Audience course to gain advocate status. See how to become a solicitor advocate.
On the other hand, budding barristers must complete vocational bar training and a one-year pupillage in a barrister’s Chambers to shadow a barrister and support court cases after which they can qualify as a barrister themselves. Students interested in pursuing the barrister pathway can apply for mini-pupillages to gain legal work experience in the field.
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