Do I need a solicitor or a barrister?

Traditionally, Solicitors have been the first port of call. Now, for many there is a better option.

Do I need a solicitor or a barrister?Once you have read through this, I hope that you will have a clearer understanding of the differences between solicitors and barristers and the roles that they occupy.

First – they are both fully qualified lawyers

In a nutshell both solicitors and barristers are types of Lawyer. Then as a surprise to many, using a barrister directly will often be very much cheaper than going to a solicitor first.

Historically, both roles were quite distinct, however recent law changes have enabled barristers to enjoy a wider role and generally speaking, the public have benefited from these changes.

A barrister is like a consultant – he specialises in a few areas of the law, with focus, expertise and experience.

In the past, solicitors would give advice to their clients and then prepare their cases for litigation or criminal trial. In contrast the principle role of barristers has always been purely to represent their clients effectively in court with the intention of achieving the most favourable outcomes.

The law has changed

Time has moved on and now an increasing number of barristers have extended their role and happily engage in giving legal advice in addition to the representations that they make in court.

Traditionally, when needing legal services, your first course of action would have been to call on a known or recommended solicitor, or perhaps to a solicitors’ firm that you may have seen advertised. With the solicitor chosen, they then act on your behalf. If appropriate they would refer you on to the specialised services of a barrister.

Nowadays though, barristers are accepting instructions directly from individuals who contact them, rather than just from those solicitors referrals. This is where the cost savings come in.

Solicitors & Barristers have different backgrounds and roles

Solicitor: Solicitors are lawyers who have undertaken post-graduate education plus an on the job training of two years. The majority of solicitors specialise in particular areas of law, although generally speaking they can give advice to the public on most areas of law. Solicitors can represent their clients in magistrates and county courts as well as at tribunals. A small number are able to represent clients in the higher courts.
Barrister: Barristers have a separate system of qualification to those of solicitors and their main role is to represent clients in court. Qualified barristers have the rights to represent clients in higher courts such as the Crown Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and House of Lords. With their broad and deep knowledge of the law some barristers are well placed to offer additional services outside of court which will include mediation and arbitration services as well giving legal advice.

Not all barristers are equal!

Some barristers accept direct instructions from clients while others don’t. However when they do it tends to be a cheaper process than the traditional one of instructing a solicitor first and then a barrister.

All aspects of law are covered by barristers, although they each tend to specialise in several areas. Read more on Direct Access

Stewart Patterson Barrister, Mediator and Arbitrator

How To Contact Me

If you are facing legal issues and would like professional advice you can call me on 01962 690061 or use the contact form below. I am a highly experienced barrister and I will give you the guidance that you need straight away

Contact Information

We wholeheartedly welcome you to contact us regarding any legally related issues or concerns. We're easy to talk with and will very quickly steer you in the right direction.

Stewart Patterson
Barrister, Mediator & Arbitrator

Pump Court Chambers,
31 Southgate Street,
SO23 9EB
Tel: 01962 690061
Fax: 0845 259 3240
DX: 2514 Winchester