Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Solicitor vs. Barrister

Some of you might be wondering what the difference is between a barrister and a solicitor. I wondered this myself for some time, even during law school.

These are English terms. Many Canadian lawyers do not distinguish whether they are a barrister or a solicitor, where apparently they do make a more concrete distinction in Britain. Some lawyers that I know use these terms openly when describing their legal practice. Most don't except to put "barristers and solicitors" on their firm sign and perhaps their stationary.

The basic definition of a barrister is someone who predominantly represents clients at the "bar" in court. In Canada, any lawyer can represent a client in court, but many do not wish do make this a large part of their practice. I suppose that solicitor work is any work that does not involve barrister work where legal advice is given.

Most lawyers in Canada refer to their work as either litigation work or solicitor work. Many lawyers show a genuine interest (or, in turn, distaste) of one or the other. Many lawyers, especially solo practioners, practice both barrister and solicitor work.

Some lawyers have suggested to me that it might be wise to choose one or another type of work to accomodate the development of true expertise in a more narrowed field. This may be more practicle in some firms, but I think that many lawyers would be better lawyers if they at least dabbled in "the other side" once in a while.

solicitor and barrister defined: In England and some other Commonwealth jurisdictions, a legal distinction is made between solicitors and barristers. A solicitor has exclusive privileges of giving oral or written legal advice. A barrister has exclusive privileges of preparing and conducting litigation in the courts. In Canada, the title "barrister and solicitor" is sometimes used even though there is no legal distinction between the advising and litigating roles. Canadian lawyers can litigate or give legal advice as can U.S. lawyers or attorneys.


Robert said...

Sorry to be pedantic but you really should proof read your work-

"practicle" (practical);
"but many do not wish do make this a large part of their practice" (but many do not wish TO make this a large part of their practice)

Sorry but these things bug me, Thanks

Anonymous said...

Just thanks for the explanation. I am an Arab. I lived in Australia for three years. They mostly use the word "solicitor" more often. I was taught the word "lawyer" when I first learned English.