The Difference Between Solicitors and Barristers

What is the difference between Solicitors and Barristers?

Lawyers, generally fall into two categories, Solicitors and Barristers.

Despite what some solicitors may tell you, or what they advertise, “Solicitors” are different from “Barristers”.


Solicitors- What do they do?

Solicitors generally work in Law Firms, government institutions, private companies, corporations and for themselves. Solicitors, whilst able to perform all of the duties that Barristers perform, often hire the services of a Barrister in more complex legal matters, particularly those that require representation in a higher court, such as the Supreme Court of NSW. This is because those barristers may specialise in appearing before higher court judges, and therefore have the requisite experience needed to handle complicated cases.

However, in criminal cases, solicitors who specialise in criminal cases often appear in the higher courts without having to brief a barrister.


Barristers- What do they do?

Barristers do not work in the same office as solicitors. They work in separate offices called “Barrister’s Chambers”. Most Barrister’s chambers are located in the Sydney, whilst there may be some in the outer metropolitan area in Sydney, such as Parramatta.

In NSW, Barristers are required to be ‘robed’ in their traditional wig, gown and gabot.

Barristers are very much like what Specialists are like to Medical Practitioners. Solicitors, when faced with serious criminal cases for their clients, such as a Murder charge, will “brief” a barrister who will appear for their clients. Barristers are often briefed in criminal trials before a Judge or a jury,in the District Court of NSW or the Supreme Court of NSW.


What is the difference between a QC and an SC?

A “Queen’s Counsel” and a “Senior Counsel” are basically the same thing. Some years ago, the legal profession changed the previously known “QC title to “SC”. There are many that still hold the title of QC, however SC’s are now outnumbering QC’s, as the term QC is slowly phased out.


Will I need a solicitor and a barrister for my case?

Many specialists criminal solicitors do most of their own court work, like ourselves. However, solicitors who do little court work (and maybe do not specialise in Criminal Law) will often brief barristers for most of their cases involving substantial legal argument. It really all depends on the experience of the solicitor handing the case and the complexity of the case. With criminal matters that are dealt with in the Local Court, it is generally easy to find solicitors that are highly competent in appearing in the Local Court, and can represent you without the assistance of a barrister. In fact, it is arguable that specialist criminal solicitors often have more experience than a barrister in simple Local Court cases!


At LY Lawyers, we brief only the best barristers in Sydney. Call us on 1300 595 299 for a free consultation.