The British legal professions

The British legal professions unlike that of most other countries includes two separate branches barristers and solicitors the term lawyer is generally that covers both branches, they both do the same advocacy this mean that they represent the client in the court. 

There are around 98,000 solicitors of which 75,000 work as solicitors there are 14,000 barristers in independent practice2, solicitors and barristers start their profession by studying a qualifying law degree which can be known as LLB which normally lasts for three years, after qualifying this course, the route to carry out a legal profession branches of, on one side solicitors do their LPC course and the other hand the barristers branch of to the Bar. After these steps the solicitor goes on to do a two year training contract and the barrister goes onto do the pupilage school for one yea which is known as Bar Vocational Course (BVC) .

After a trainee solicitor has completed the contract and has passed all exams, s/he applies to the Law Society in order to be admitted. This is done by the Master of the Rolls adding the name of the new solicitors to the roll of officers of the Supreme Court of Judicature. A solicitor who wishes to practice has to take out an annual practicing certificate issued by the Law Society. This has to be paid for. Once a barrister is qualified, they become self-employed. Normally they join a set of groups of barristers where they share the work load and working expenses. Wages of these barristers is often paid 18 months late.

They can't wait this long as they have to pay for travel expenses etc, and cannot sue for their fees. An honorarium is paid to a barrister, voluntarily for a service which is free. Therefore a barrister cannot sue for fees. In Rhondel v Worsley (1969) it was said that a barrister cannot sue for negligence whilst acting as an advocate, this has been overruled by Hall v Simons (July 2000). Now barristers can be sued for negligence by their clients at any time. As a matter of etiquette, barristers refer to each other as my learned friends. They do not shake hands and do not use headed notepad.

An important rule is that subject to exceptional cases counsel can only accept instructions from a solicitor. After explaining the differences between barristers and solicitors, it seems that both have a lot in common. For example a similarity is that academic training is the same i. e. a degree of upper class is needed in Law or some other subject. Their training of a similar nature, working with qualified professionals. There they master key skills and techniques as well as exercising their knowledge. This practical training course will cost each 7000. Barristers and solicitors roles, however, are not quite so similar.

A barrister goes into court and fights whereas a solicitor's job is mainly paperwork and advice members of the public when needed. Solicitors are a link to barristers, yet some professionals can approach a barrister directly. This is the main difference between the two professions.


1. Elliot C & Quinn F (2010) Unlocking English Legal System London 11th edition 2. Elliot C (2006) English Legal System London 2nd Edition 3. RONDEL v WORSLEY [1969] 1 AC 191 4. Hall v Simons (July 2000) 1 QB 187 1 Elliot C & Quinn F (2010) Unlocking English Legal System p. 188 2 Elliot C & Quinn F (2010) Unlocking English Legal System p. 197