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Legal Practitioners

Lawyers in the United Kingdom jurisdictions generally practice as solicitors in private firms, as legal advisers in corporations, government departments, and advice agencies, or as barristers. They can each do advocacy, draft legal documents and give written advice, but solicitors, unlike barristers, cannot appear in every court.

Traditionally, solicitors undertake work such asconveyancing and drawing up contractsand wills. Barristers spend more time in court and have a right of audience in the higher courts. Unlike solicitors, barristers cannot usually be employed directly by clients but are instructed by solicitors. Solicitors normally form partnerships with other solicitors and work in offices with support staff. The qualification and practice of solicitors are regulated by the Law Society.

Unlike solicitors, barristers can’t form partnerships but must act as sole traders with unlimited liability. Some barristers are in employed practice and may only represent their employer, for example as in-house counselor in government departments. Many work independently in self-employed practice in groups called chambers.

A barrister’s main work is to provide representation in the courts, to draft documents associated with court procedure, and to give opinions, that is, specialist legal advice. They are normally instructed by solicitors on behalf of lay clients. As the law has become more complex, barristers increasingly specialise in particular areas, such as personal injury, crime, family or commercial law. Barristers are governed by the General Council of the Bar, known as the Bar Council.


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