Barristers are different from solicitors in a variety of ways and are employed for different reasons. Most barristers work out of chambers located in the city, and are trained specifically in the justice and court system. As a result, they spend most of their time in the court room.
Barristers combine a thorough understanding of the law and the rules of the courts, which they develop from frequent appearances in court and tribunals. They act as the legal representative of a client and provide advice and opinions in complex legal matters. Barristers are highly trained in advocacy work and can also work as mediators and conciliators in certain situations.
Solicitors are usually the first legal professional you will consult, and if you need to go to court or an expert legal opinion is needed, your solicitor will “brief” a barrister to do this work. However, in some circumstances a barrister will accept instructions from a client or approved professional organisation directly, without needing to engage a solicitor.
In 1994, solicitors were granted the right to present cases in court as well as prepare cases, while barristers are trained to present cases in court specifically and are prohibited from carrying out the preparatory steps that solicitors carry out.
While many solicitors are qualified to prepare cases and represent clients in court, many choose to instruct barristers so they can concentrate on preparing the case, while a barrister will be able to focus on the key issues and bring a fresh view to the case.
A solicitor will advise a client to use a barrister depending on several factors, including:
• How complex the case is;
• whether the solicitor is able to represent the client in court;
• what the client is wanting; and
• the solicitors availability.
Although barristers work independently, they often have working relationships with particular solicitors, which help them collaborate more effectively for the best possible outcome. If you need the services of a barrister, your solicitor will advise you and refer you to the most appropriate professional.