A Barrister. Barristers are specialists in advocacy and represent individuals or organizations in court. They are independent sources of legal advice and can advise clients on their cases.
Generally, they are hired by solicitors to represent a court case and only become involved once advocacy before a court is needed. They plead the case on behalf of the client and the client’s solicitors.
Most barristers work on a self-employed basis, while others work in government departments or agencies. An increasing number of employed barristers work in private and public organizations, such as charities. Self-employed barristers work in offices called chambers and may have their own office or share one with other barristers.
What Does a Barrister Do?
A barrister job description should contain a variety of functions and roles, including:
. Advising clients on matters of law and evidence and the strength of their cases.
. Examining and cross-examining witnesses.
. Taking instructions from clients and their solicitors.
. Mastering and managing legal briefs (cases).
. Undertaking legal research into relevant points of law.
. Summing up the reasons why the court should support the client’s case.
. Negotiating settlements
. Drafting legal documents
. Representing clients in court.
. Presenting arguments in court.
. The work of a criminal barrister is likely to involve a lot of advocacies in court.
. A family law barrister may be representing clients in court in a contract dispute or divorce case, but may also be involved in mediation as a way of avoiding the need to go to court.
. Barristers practicing chancery/commercial law are generally in court far less than those in other practice areas and instead spend more time undertaking drafting and advisory work.
. Writing opinions and advising solicitors and other professionals.
. Preparing cases for court, including holding client conferences, preparing legal arguments, etc.
Definition of Terms
When legal disputes enter the Court system, barristers are retained by the solicitor in charge of the matter to appear. Barristers are experts in courtroom advocacy and preparing matters for trial. Barrister will also wear a white wig and black robe when appearing. Similar to solicitors, barristers tend to specialize in particular areas of law. For example, a barrister who acts for you in a family law matter may not be the best choice to represent you at a criminal trial.
Due to this, barristers also command a higher fee than solicitors but work independently as sole practitioners (not in a law firm). Barristers often work in quarters called “Chambers” These chambers are fundamentally a shared space, close to the court, where multiple barristers work. They pay a “floor fee” to rent out the room in the chambers.
Barristers are also responsible for obtaining their work. Solicitors usually hire barristers on behalf of their clients. Barristers build their client base by cultivating professional relationships with solicitors and law firms. Those who have significant experience and skill can also become Senior Counsel (SC) or Queen’s Counsel (QC).
They are also colloquially referred to as ‘silks. Barristers must accept any brief, so long as it is in an area of law they practice in. This is known as the ‘cab-rank rule’. However, this rule does not apply to solicitors who can accept work at their discretion.
A lawyer also referred to as an attorney, is a professional qualified to practice law. A lawyer is a general term given to anyone who has successfully been inducted into the law profession after successful completion of his studies in an accredited law school. In practice, he can choose to either represent parties in lawsuits and trials or give out legal advice. In the first instance, he becomes a ‘barrister, while legal advisors are specifically referred to as ‘solicitors.
Hence, the term lawyer is an umbrella term used to describe the major professions under a law degree.
A Solicitor is someone with a certificate to practice law that is not a barrister or judge. Commonly, if you have a legal issue, you would first find a solicitor to provide advice on your case. Only if the matter proceeds to Court will a barrister be needed. In this case, the solicitor will retain a barrister with the experience to successfully prepare and present your case.
Solicitors can appear in Court as “solicitor advocates”, however, this isn’t necessarily their specialty. Solicitors have expertise in preparing documentation, advising clients, and finding legal solutions. In most, a barrister will only become involved where a matter is going to trial.
Advocacy means representing your client and advocating for their interests. Although all lawyers do this, advocacy particularly refers to representing clients in court. Being an advocate means you have to also understand court etiquette and procedures to represent your case effectively. Advocacy is the specialty of barristers, who are experts in presenting legal arguments at trial.
Differences Between a Lawyer and a Barrister
The major difference between a lawyer and a barrister is best described through each of their legal functions or jurisdictions. From the previous definitions above, we deduce a typical difference between both professions, a barrister is a type of lawyer. Other professional differences that exist between these two roles include:
. A barrister is a court expert who deals with higher court matters. Also known as a court advocate, this profession is responsible for representing clients in a court.
. A lawyer is required to pass the bar examination to become a barrister. A lawyer, on the other hand, does not need the bar exam to retain his title as a lawyer. That is, after completing a law degree, an individual remains a lawyer whether or not he chooses to sit for the bar examination.
. Barristers are often involved in the process of pursuing actions relating to legal documents drafted for clients by lawyers.
. A lawyer can choose to be either a solicitor or a barrister. These are two major top divisions of specialization. Hence, we can understand that all barristers are lawyers but not all lawyers are barristers.
. Unlike usual lawyers, a barrister never handles the preparation and signing of wills or contracts of clients.
What Skills Does a Barrister Need?
The barrister job description can involve a wide range of skills. The role of a barrister can include the following:
. The ability to communicate with a wide range of people
. Determination, stamina, self-motivation, and self-discipline
. Strong academic ability
. Commercial and legal awareness
. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, alongside the ability to express arguments and ideas clearly
. An analytical mind and a logical approach
. Advocacy skills – the ability to be an advocate for someone else and act in their best interests
. A responsible attitude and integrity
. Problem-solving skills
. The ability to remain calm under pressure and a flexible approach to working when situations change
. Excellent time, project, and people management skills
. Attention to detail and strong research skills
Why Take Legal Advice from A Barrister?
Here are some benefits of taking advice from a barrister:
To Avoid Making Your Situation More Complicated
The goal here is to avoid making your situation any worse. If you are already in a dispute that gives you headaches, you will surely not want any more of those. So better make sure that you listen and cooperate well with your lawyers to minimize the chances of getting in trouble. It wouldn’t hurt as well to discuss and clarify the steps you are taking with your lawyers so you can assess whether it’s worth your money or not.
The Credibility of The Documents
Drafting documents under solicitor instruction gives more credibility as it is closely supervised. Documents for an ongoing court proceeding are important since it is used to get the client through his/her situation. Not only should the documents be carefully gathered and crafted, but they must also be handled with care.
To Avoid Future Legal Disputes
Whether or not you’ve experienced getting involved in a legal dispute, taking advice from a legal expert is a wise move to make sure that you’re not doing anything against the law. Even if you already went through a court proceeding successfully, it is still better to keep in mind what to do in legal disputes and to avoid conflicts in the future.
What Is a Defense Barrister?
A defense barrister represents a person accused of a crime in Court, advocating on behalf of the client and pleading their case. A defense barrister can also give written advice on a legal issue and advise on the strength of a case if instructed by a solicitor to represent a client in Court. The role of a defense barrister is not to prove a person’s innocence, just that the prosecution’s evidence isn’t strong enough.
What Does a Barrister Do in Court?
. Barristers have formal advocacy skills, which they can use in any court on the land. In a courtroom, they will present cases, examine and cross-examine witnesses, and give reasons why the court should support a case.
. A barrister will carefully translate and structure a client’s interpretation of events into legal arguments. Communicating, succinctly and persuasively to secure the best possible result for a client when in court.
What Does a Barrister Wear in Court?
The attire historically worn by barristers in Court is a distinctive black gown, a court coat, and a waistcoat, plus a wig. The dress robes for Court have evolved over centuries and are regarded as a symbol of power and respect for the law while bringing a sense of formality and solemnity to Court proceedings.
The Court attire for barristers represents the rich history of common law. The wearing of black gowns originated with the death of King Charles II in 1685 when the Bar entered a period of mourning. They started to wear black mourning robes, complete with the pleated shoulders and tapered elbows as worn by barristers in Court today.