Solicitors and Barristers

England is almost unique in having two different kinds of lawyers, with separate jobs in the legal system. The two kinds of lawyers are solicitors and barristers.

If a person has a legal problem, he will go to see a solicitor. Almost every town will have at least one. In fact there are at least 50,000 solicitors in Britain, and their number is increasing.

Many problems are dealt with exclusively by a solicitor. For instance, the solicitor deals with petty crimes and some matrimonial matters in Magistrates' Courts, the lowest Courts. He prepares the case and the evidence. He actually speaks in Court for you.

In a civil action he can speak in the County Court, when the case is one of divorce or recovering some debts. In the County Court the solicitor wears a black gown over his ordinary clothes.

A solicitor also deals with matters outside Court. He does the legal work involved in buying a house, for instance. He writes legal letters for you and carries on legal arguments outside Court. If you want to make a will the best man to advise you is a solicitor.

To qualify as a solicitor, a young man or woman joins a solicitor as a "clerk" and works for him while studying part-time for the "Law Society" exams. Interestingly enough, it is not necessary for you to go to University. When you have passed all the necessary exams, you can "practice", which means you can start business on your own.

Barristers are different from solicitors. Barristers are experts in the interpretation of the Law. They are called in to advise on really difficult points. The barrister is also an expert on advocacy (the art of presenting cases in Court).

Barristers are rather remote figures. If you need one, for instance, you never see him without your solicitor being with him. Barristers do not have public offices in any street. They work in what are known as chambers, often in London.

To qualify as a barrister you have to take the examinations at the Bar Council. These are different from solicitors' examinations. There are over 5,000 barristers in England. A good one can earn 30,000 pounds a year.


Answer the questions:

1. What is almost unique about the English legal system?

2. What kind of problems does a solicitor deal with?

3. How many solicitors are there in Britain?

4. How do you qualify as a solicitor?

5. What are barristers experts in?

6. What reasons are there for saying that a barrister is rather remote?

7. How do you qualify as a barrister?


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