Barristers & Solicitors
Lawyer - Law´yer - Noun - (pronounced loyur) a professional person authorised to practice law; conducts lawsuits or gives legal advice. It is a general term which includes attorneys, counsellors, solicitors, barristers and advocates.
"Lawyer" - amicus curiae, attorney, attorney-at-law, counsellor, counsel, advocate, legal advisor, jurist, counsellor-at-law, prosecutor, legist, special pleader, friend at court, intercessor, proctor, procurator, pettifogger. Slang = ambulance chaser, mouthpiece, shyster.
Barrister - bar´ris`ter - Noun - a British lawyer who speaks in the higher courts of law. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/barrister)
Solicitor - So`lic´it`or - Noun - a British lawyer who gives legal advice and prepares legal documents. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/solicitor)
The legal profession in England, Wales, Canada, New Zealand, & Australia, among other countries, is made up of two separate and distinct groups: barristers and solicitors. Each country, of course, has its own idiosyncrasies with respect to the legal professional. Nevertheless, barristers and solicitors each have a distinct and defined roll.
The barrister is a lawyer who has been admitted to "plead at the bar." That means that he or she has been called to the bar and is allowed to appear in court to argue a client's case. After graduation from university law school must pass the "bar final" exams. Some jurisdictions, such as England, then require the barrister to be taken on by a practicing barrister for a one-year pupillage. A pupillage is similar to an internship in the medical profession and allows the new barrister to observe and assist his "pupil master" in action and, hopefully, learn from the experience.
The barrister is a "courtroom lawyer" who practices out of an office referred to as a "chambers." Although a number of barristers may make up any particular "set" of chambers, they are prohibited from incorporating or joining together as partners, and each acts as a sole practitioner. Anyone who has viewed "Rumpole of the Bailey" on the Public Broadcasting System, or has read any of the Rumpole books authored by John Mortimer Q.C., has received an excellent overview of how a barristers' chambers operates. The barrister is easily identifiable by his or her working garb, which include robe and wig.
A solicitor, on the other hand, is a lawyer who, after having served under the supervision of a practicing solicitor for two years (depending once again on the jurisdiction in which he practices), and satisfied other demands of the Law Society, including educational requirements, is admitted to practice. In New Zealand, at least, solicitors may handle trust accounts for their clients and have a high fiduciary duty to their clients with respect to the trust accounts.
Solicitors have limited rights to practice before the courts ("rights of access"), but traditionally "instruct" a barrister to appear in court for them. The instructions provide the barrister with necessary information and documents, and outline the tasks which the solicitor wishes the barrister to perform. Following tradition, the instructions and related papers, referred to as a "brief", is delivered to the barrister. After review of the instructions, conference(s) with the instructing solicitor and his or her client, and any required legal research, the barrister argues the matter at issue in court.
A solicitor is considered an "office lawyer" whereas the barrister, who provides opinions to solicitors on difficult points of law, also appears in court.
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