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Solicitor vs. Barrister — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Maham Liaqat — Updated on April 28, 2024
Solicitors offer legal advice directly to clients, handling routine matters, whereas barristers specialize in court advocacy and litigation.
Solicitor vs. Barrister — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Solicitor and Barrister


Key Differences

Solicitors typically manage legal affairs, providing advice, preparing documents, and conducting negotiations for clients. Whereas, barristers are primarily involved in courtroom representation and providing specialist legal advice.
Solicitors often have direct and ongoing relationships with their clients, managing cases from start to finish. On the other hand, barristers are usually hired by solicitors to represent a case in court after initial preparations are done.
Solicitors are employed within various legal settings, including law firms, corporations, and government agencies, dealing with a broad range of legal matters. Conversely, barristers are generally self-employed and specialize in particular areas of law.
Solicitors can represent clients in lower courts; however, their primary role is out of court legal work. Meanwhile, barristers are trained advocates who have the right to represent clients in higher courts.
Solicitors have the capability to become partners in their law firms and can have a more varied day-to-day job role. Barristers, however, focus more on advocacy before the courts and often work more independently.

Comparison Chart

Main Role

Legal advice, document preparation
Courtroom advocacy, specialist advice

Client Interaction

Direct, ongoing
Indirect, case-specific

Employment Type

Law firms, in-house, government
Mostly self-employed

Court Representation

Lower courts primarily
All levels of courts


Broad, general practice
High specialization in areas of law

Compare with Definitions


Engages in negotiations and legal settlements on behalf of clients.
Their solicitor negotiated a settlement that avoided a lengthy trial.


Primarily receives cases referred from solicitors and does not usually have direct client contact.
The barrister reviewed the case files sent over by the solicitor.


Typically part of a law firm and deals with public or private legal matters.
She consulted her solicitor about starting a new business.


Represents clients in higher courts where expert advocacy is required.
The barrister was admitted to argue before the Supreme Court.


Can undertake legal processes like conveyancing and probate.
The family solicitor handled the estate's probate process efficiently.


Works independently, often in 'chambers' with other barristers.
She works in a chambers known for its formidable criminal law barristers.


Works collaboratively with barristers when specialized advocacy is required.
The solicitor briefed a barrister for the upcoming high-stakes trial.


A legal professional specializing in courtroom advocacy, often providing expert advice on complex cases.
The barrister's eloquent closing argument swayed the jury.


A legal professional who advises clients, prepares legal documents, and may represent clients in lower courts.
The solicitor drafted the contract that would later be crucial in the dispute.


Specializes in a particular area of law, such as criminal, family, or corporate law.
He is a well-respected barrister in the field of intellectual property law.


A solicitor is a legal practitioner who traditionally deals with most of the legal matters in some jurisdictions. A person must have legally-defined qualifications, which vary from one jurisdiction to another, to be described as a solicitor and enabled to practise there as such.


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


A member of the legal profession qualified to deal with conveyancing, the drawing up of wills, and other legal matters. A solicitor may also instruct barristers and represent clients in some courts.


A person called to the bar and entitled to practise as an advocate, particularly in the higher courts.


A person who tries to obtain business orders, advertising, etc.; a canvasser
She had been a telephone solicitor for a Chicago newspaper


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


One that solicits, especially one that seeks trade or contributions.


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


An attorney holding a public office that handles cases involving a city, state, or other jurisdiction.


Counselor at law; a counsel admitted to plead at the bar, and undertake the public trial of causes, as distinguished from an attorney or solicitor. See Attorney.


Chiefly British An attorney who advises clients on legal matters, represents clients in certain lower courts, and prepares cases for barristers to present in the higher courts.


A British lawyer who speaks in the higher courts of law


(Canadian) A barrister and solicitor; a lawyer.


One who solicits.


In many common law jurisdictions, a type of lawyer whose traditional role is to offer legal services to clients apart from acting as their advocate in court. A solicitor instructs barristers to act as an advocate for their client in court, although rights of audience for solicitors vary according to jurisdiction.


In English Canada and in parts of Australia, a type of lawyer who historically held the same role as above, but whose role has in modern times been merged with that of a barrister.


In parts of the U.S., the chief legal officer of a city, town or other jurisdiction.


(North America) A person soliciting sales, especially door to door.


One who solicits.


An attorney or advocate; one who represents another in court; - formerly, in English practice, the professional designation of a person admitted to practice in a court of chancery or equity. See the Note under Attorney.


A petitioner who solicits contributions or trade or votes


A British lawyer who gives legal advice and prepares legal documents

Common Curiosities

Can solicitors represent clients in higher courts?

Solicitors can represent clients in lower courts, and some can gain qualifications to represent in higher courts, but typically barristers handle such representations.

What is a 'chambers' in the context of barristers?

'Chambers' refers to the shared offices where barristers operate independently but share administrative functions.

What is the primary difference between a solicitor and a barrister?

Solicitors generally provide broad legal advice and handle case preparations, while barristers specialize in court advocacy.

How does one become a barrister?

Becoming a barrister requires completing academic qualifications, Barrister-at-Law degree, and undergoing pupillage.

Can a solicitor become a barrister?

Yes, a solicitor can retrain as a barrister by fulfilling additional education and training requirements.

How do solicitors and barristers work together?

Solicitors often hire barristers to provide specialist legal representation and advice in complex cases.

What legal matters does a solicitor handle?

Solicitors handle a variety of matters including contracts, real estate transactions, and family law.

Who deals with legal documentation?

Solicitors typically handle legal documentation and agreements, while barristers focus on case preparation and court documents.

Which type of lawyer should I contact for divorce proceedings?

Initially, a solicitor to handle documentation and advice; a barrister can be involved for court proceedings if needed.

What does it mean if a barrister is 'instructed' by a solicitor?

This means a solicitor has engaged a barrister to provide specialized legal representation or advice for a client's case.

Are barristers more expensive than solicitors?

Barristers can be more expensive due to their specialized court skills and representation in higher courts.

What does it mean when a barrister 'takes silk'?

A barrister 'taking silk' refers to being appointed as a Queen's Counsel (QC), a status denoting seniority and expertise.

Who has a broader scope of practice, a solicitor or a barrister?

Solicitors usually have a broader scope of practice, dealing with various legal matters; barristers specialize in specific legal areas.

Can barristers negotiate settlements?

Barristers typically focus on advocacy; negotiation of settlements is usually handled by solicitors.

Is the training period longer for a barrister or a solicitor?

Both professions require extensive training, but barristers also need to complete pupillage, which is intensive court-focused training.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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