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Judge vs. Barrister — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Maham Liaqat — Updated on February 23, 2024
A judge presides over court proceedings, making rulings and ensuring justice, while a barrister represents clients in court, specializing in advocacy and legal advice.
Judge vs. Barrister — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Judge and Barrister


Key Differences

Judges are legal officials with the authority to preside over courtrooms, make legal judgments, and ensure the law is followed during trials. They are pivotal in the judicial system, overseeing the fair administration of justice.
Barristers are lawyers who specialize in representing clients in higher courts. They provide expert legal advice, prepare legal documents, and advocate on behalf of their clients, presenting cases before judges.
The role of a judge is fundamentally different from that of a barrister. While judges are neutral arbitrators who decide on the outcomes of cases, barristers are advocates who argue for the interests of their clients within the framework of the law.
Judges are appointed or elected to their positions and must remain impartial, basing their decisions solely on the law and the evidence presented. Barristers are hired by clients or selected by solicitors to represent cases in court, and they must work within the bounds of legal ethics and the interests of their clients.
The educational and professional paths to becoming a judge or a barrister also differ. Judges typically have extensive experience as lawyers before ascending to the bench, whereas barristers must undergo specialized training and gain experience in advocacy to practice in higher courts.

Comparison Chart

Role in Court

Presides over trials, makes legal judgments
Represents clients, advocates in court


Ensure justice, impartial decision-making
Advocate for client's interests


Selected through appointment or election
Called to the bar after meeting qualifications


Oversee proceedings, rule on legal matters
Provide legal advice, prepare and present cases

Professional Background

Extensive legal experience, often as a lawyer
Specialized training in advocacy, legal practice

Compare with Definitions


A person who assesses the merits of something.
He acted as a judge for the art competition.


A lawyer qualified to represent clients in higher courts.
The barrister delivered a compelling argument for the case.


A referee in sports or other competitions.
The judge awarded points for the gymnastics routine.


An expert in legal drafting and opinion writing.
The barrister prepared detailed legal documents for the appeal.


An arbitrator in disputes.
She was chosen as a judge in the community dispute.


A member of the bar with rights of audience in court.
The barrister wore his wig and gown for the trial.


Someone who makes decisions or judgments.
As a judge at the baking contest, she tasted all entries.


A legal advisor specializing in courtroom advocacy.
As her barrister, he provided crucial legal advice.


A legal official with authority to hear and decide cases in a court of law.
The judge ruled in favor of the defendant.


A professional advocate in judicial proceedings.
The experienced barrister was known for his persuasive court presentations.


A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions.


A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialise in courtroom advocacy and litigation.


(Law) To hear and decide on in a court of law
Judge a case.


A lawyer who is authorized to appear and present cases at any court in a jurisdiction.


To act or decide as a judge.


A lawyer with the right to speak and argue as an advocate in higher lawcourts.


(Law) A public official who hears and decides cases brought in court.


A British lawyer who speaks in the higher courts of law


(Law) A public official who hears and decides cases or matters in a forum other than a court, such as an administrative proceeding.


A public official whose duty it is to administer the law, especially by presiding over trials and rendering judgments; a justice.


A public officer who is invested with authority to hear and determine litigated causes, and to administer justice between parties in courts held for that purpose.
The parts of a judge in hearing are four: to direct the evidence; to moderate length, repetition, or impertinency of speech; to recapitulate, select, and collate the material points of that which hath been said; and to give the rule or sentence.


To hear and determine by authority, as a case before a court, or a controversy between two parties.


A public official authorized to decide questions bought before a court of justice

Common Curiosities

Can a barrister become a judge?

Yes, many judges are appointed after gaining extensive experience as barristers (or solicitors) and demonstrating a deep understanding of the law.

Do judges and barristers work together?

They interact in court, with judges presiding over cases and barristers presenting arguments, but they have distinct roles.

Are judges involved in the advocacy process?

No, judges must remain impartial and are not involved in advocating for any side in a case.

How does one become a judge?

Becoming a judge usually requires a legal background, years of practice, often as a barrister or solicitor, and then appointment or election to a judicial position.

What is the main difference between a judge and a barrister?

A judge makes rulings and ensures justice in court, while a barrister represents clients and specializes in advocacy.

What qualifications are needed to become a barrister?

Barristers typically require a law degree, completion of vocational training (such as the Bar Professional Training Course in the UK), and a period of pupillage or training under a senior barrister.

Can barristers make legal decisions?

Barristers cannot make legal decisions; they can only advise and advocate for their clients.

What is the role of a judge in non-trial settings?

Judges may also handle pre-trial motions, legal interpretations, and administrative duties within the court system.

How do barristers prepare for court?

Barristers prepare by researching legal precedents, gathering evidence, drafting legal documents, and formulating arguments to support their client’s case.

Who appoints judges?

The process varies by country, but judges are typically appointed by the government or a judicial selection committee.

How do judges ensure impartiality?

Judges follow strict ethical guidelines, rely on evidence and the law in their decisions, and avoid conflicts of interest.

Do all countries use the term 'barrister'?

No, the term and role of a barrister are specific to certain legal systems, such as those in the UK, Australia, and Canada. Other countries might use terms like "lawyer" or "attorney" more broadly.

Can barristers refuse a case?

Under the cab-rank rule in some jurisdictions, barristers are obliged to accept any case in their field of practice, but there are exceptions.

Is courtroom attire different for judges and barristers?

Yes, in many jurisdictions, judges and barristers wear distinct robes and, in some cases, wigs, as part of their traditional court attire.

What is the significance of a barrister's wig?

The wig, part of traditional court attire in some jurisdictions, symbolizes anonymity, equality, and respect for the legal process.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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