What’s The Difference Between Barristers And Solicitors In The UK


The term “lawyer” is a generic term in description of anyone who is licensed to practice law by the bar within any country. It is often interchangeably used with the words “attorney” or “advocate” depending on the jurisdiction. This readily applies in countries where there is a fused legal profession where a lawyer could perform both functions of a solicitor and barrister. In such a legal system, the clients will see an attorney or advocate and if eventually the matter goes to court, the same attorney or advocate will argue the client’s case in court.

In some countries however, there exists a split legal profession and the UK is a case in point. In these countries lawyers are split into two categories. The first are the solicitors who are non-trial lawyers who consults with clients and prepares legal documents but is generally not heard in High court or (in Scotland) Court of Session unless specially licensed (Black’s Law Dictionary).

The others are the barristers who are trial (courtroom) lawyers who argue the client’s case in court proceedings. In almost all cases, the solicitor is the first lawyer seen by the client. The barrister is retained by the solicitor (not by the client) if the matter eventually goes to trial.

In Nigeria, unlike the case in England, a legal practitioner is a person entitled to practice as a barrister (advocate) or as a barrister and solicitor. Thus, a legal practitioner in Nigeria is both a barrister and a solicitor. But there are a few exceptions. For example, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) is generally not entitled to practice as a solicitor but may practice as a barrister. More so, an advocate (barrister) practicing in a country whose legal system is similar to that of Nigeria may be permitted by the Chief Justice of Nigeria to practice as a barrister. But there is no such power to permit him to practice as a solicitor.

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