The debate of whether there is the continued need for separation of the professions of a barrister and solicitor is one that is open to discussion. Reason being is that both the legal profession's have a similar output but it is not possible to belong to both the professions. However that doesn't put limitations on the solicitors or barristers to remain in one legal profession. It is possible for a solicitor to retrain for the profession of a barrister, vice versa Things that separate solicitors from barristers are the roles, traditions, training, professional body, qualifications, association with clients and legal responsibility.
Barristers also wear wigs in court whilst solicitors don't. A difference which was altered by the Courts and Legal Service Act 19901 and Access to Justice Act 19992 is the profession of a private solicitor has now become more like a barristers. Meaning that they are able to advocate for their clients in higher courts; this doesn't change the fact that they are required to do most of the paper work whereas a barrister can do some of the paper work. Advocate means that they support, give advice and help their client's to be heard in court.
Before the introduction of the CSLA '90 lawyers weren't allowed to form partnerships with associates of other professions but the CSLA '90 now allows them to do so. The role of the barrister is to advocate. Fully qualified barristers have the ability to advocate in higher courts such as House of Lords, Court of Appeal, High Court and Crown Court. Barristers use their time writing their opinions on cases. Barristers usually are self-employed and work in offices which are rented from the Bar Council (BC) which are called 'chambers'.
Barristers who share chambers usually specialise in the same area of law. The BC is also the professional body for barristers. Some barristers are employed by organisations like the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Barristers work on a 'cab-rank rule' meaning that they cannot turn down cases which fit into their area of law unless they are already occupied. The cab-rank rule doesn't apply when clients approach the barrister directly. 10% of barristers are known to be Queen's Counsel (QC). QC's deal with the more complicated cases, due to this QC's earning increases compared to a standard barrister.
To becoming a QC, the applicant must have worked as a junior barrister for a minimum of ten years. An example of fusion taking place shows in context that solicitors with the right qualifications are awarded the rank of QC on the same basis as barristers. The role of a solicitor is to prepare cases which they then hand to barristers. Solicitors are commonly known for writing letters, writing wills, conveyancing and give advice directly to their clients either in their firms or in other locations such as prisons.
The solicitor is the first person who would be contacted when a case is to be bought against someone or if a person is being charged with a criminal offence. It is not possible to distinguish solicitors as not having a specialist role as there are many large firms who have solicitors who only work on a specific area of the law such as family law, immigration law, licensing law and fraud. In many occasions a solicitor would seek the advice of a barrister regarding civil cases. This is so that the solicitor can come to a settlement with the conflicting side outside of the court.
Both the professions training begin at gaining a Law Degree. If the student wants to take the path of becoming a barrister then he/she would have to become a member of an Inn of Court which is then followed by a year of Vocational Training Course or Bar Examination Course. Mature students are able to do a 2 year legal preparatory course. As for a solicitor, after their degree it is required to take the Legal Practice Course (LPC) followed by a two year on-the-job training period.
Conventions also allow solicitors to join the Inns of Court however only a few do. If the professions were to merge the advantages would mainly be beneficial towards the clients as one of the main advantages would be the reduced costs. Michael Zander made a the speech of it being cheaper to run one taxi meter rather then two or three in the context that it there would be the need for one lawyer instead of a solicitor and a barrister separately. There would also be the aspect of time being saved.
The current process is that all matters are communicated to the barristers through the solicitors. This is likely to cause long delays which are not necessary. In many cases the solicitor who prepares the case and follows it through to the end does a better job than a barrister taking the case to court. There would also be advantages to students who gain their law degree. The students would benefit from the same foundation of training and would gain and develop their skills at a higher standard as they would get the best of both professions.
The disadvantages of fusion are altogether overshadowed by the benefits. The disadvantages include things such as a decrease in specialist skills as both professions would have to be 'all rounder's', decrease of the advocacy standard due to the deficient in experience, loss of the Bar council, loss of the cab-rank-rule meaning that the clients wouldn't be guaranteed of representation. Lawyers wouldn't be able to specialise in areas of law in the single firms.
The advice regarding civil cases which solicitors got from barristers wouldn't be available. It is possible to conclude from the above points that there would be few minor problems if the professions were to fuse. The advantages would also prevail over the disadvantages as they seem very minimal. Word count – 975 (excluding bibliography)
Books Gary Slapper, David Kelly. (2010-2011) The English Legal System Elliott & Quinn. Tenth Edition. English Legal System www.legislation.gov.uk