What Is The Difference Between a Barrister and a Solicitor?

Barristers and solicitors both practice law in the UK, providing legal representation for their clients. Traditionally, the key differences between the two were that solicitors mainly worked directly with clients on strategy, collating court documentation, and other legal work outside the courtroom, whereas barristers represented clients in court after being instructed by the solicitor working on the case. However, the Bar Standards Board’s direct access scheme changed this. The scheme first started in 2004 but expanded to its current form in 2013. The scheme authorised qualified direct access barristers to accept instructions from members of the public directly. So, currently, what is the difference between a barrister and a solicitor in their day-to-day roles?

Key responsibilities of a solicitor

Solicitors mainly manage day-to-day legal issues, ensuring that their clients are given the support they need. They will represent the client from the beginning, listening to the client’s issue, explaining how the legal process will work, and completing legal documents such as claim forms and witness statements. Solicitors usually do not appear in court on behalf of their clients and will instead instruct a barrister to do this.

Key responsibilities of a barrister

When a case goes to court, the solicitor handling the case will instruct a barrister, who will read the client’s documents and familiarise themselves with the case. The barrister will often meet with the client in advance of any hearing and give an opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the client’s case.

Barristers are the ones that you think of in court. In higher courts (but not in the lower Family Court or tribunals), they will wear a wig and gown. Barristers are usually specialists in a particular area and are called upon for advice on complicated issues.

Barristers are able to represent clients in the highest of the UK courts. They know all of the correct etiquette and are able to provide the best possible representation for their clients in court. Barristers are usually self-employed, although they often work with other self-employed barristers in organisations called barristers’ “chambers”.

What is a Direct Access Barristers Chambers?

A direct access barristers chambers is one offering services to the public through the direct access scheme. Under the scheme, a barrister may register as a public access practitioner after completing training specified by the Bar Standards Board. This then allows that barrister to receive instructions directly from members of the public without a solicitor being involved. The direct access scheme can help clients reduce their legal costs because it enables them to manage their cases themselves but work with the barrister wherever necessary, e.g., on complex issues.  Direct access barristers can help with a range of work, such as drafting witness statements, drafting position statements, advising generally, and appearing in court.

About Us

If you are experiencing any kind of family law issue (divorce or children related), Demstone Chambers can help. We are an expert direct access barristers chambers specialising in family law cases. We can offer support at any point in your case, whether you simply need legal advice or want us to represent you in court. To find out more, contact us today.


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