September 28, 2023


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What is the Distinction Between a Lawyer and Barrister? (2023 Replace)

6 min read

Barristers are attorneys, however not all attorneys are barristers. Discover out what the distinction is between a lawyer and a barrister right here.


The authorized occupation is extra various than many individuals suppose. There’s an array of jobs you possibly can have within the authorized occupation past being a lawyer, though many of those jobs work together with one another. For a lot of, the phrase ‘lawyer’ is synonymous with a go well with, excessive heels, and the courtroom. Equally, the phrase ‘barrister’ brings to thoughts photographs of a white wig and black gown gown. Nonetheless, past authorized apparel, attorneys and barristers are completely different – with this distinction being extra pronounced in some jurisdictions.

A standard misperception is that barristers and attorneys are inherently the identical, in that they’re authorized advocates that spend their days in Court docket. Nonetheless, in Australia’s widespread legislation system, many advocates you see representing their purchasers at trial are barristers. A useful technique to keep in mind that is {that a} barrister is a kind of lawyer – however a lawyer is just not at all times a barrister.

On this article, we’ll talk about what makes attorneys and barristers completely different members of the identical occupation. Additional, we’ll clarify how these definitions additionally differ relying on which jurisdiction they function in.

Key factors

  • Lawyer: Somebody admitted to the broader authorized occupation. This consists of being a barrister, solicitor, or decide.
  • Solicitor: Somebody with a certificates to apply legislation who is just not a barrister or decide.
  • Barrister: A lawyer who has handed the ‘Bar‘ examination of their respective state, studied the bar course, and undertaken their readership with a senior Barrister. They seem in courtroom to advocate on behalf of purchasers however technically work for the solicitor.

The distinction between a lawyer and a barrister is that the latter is a kind of lawyer. A solicitor can solely develop into a barrister in the event that they determine to take and cross the ‘Bar’ examination within the state that they want to function.

What’s the distinction between a lawyer and a barrister?

Particularly, barristers are attorneys who specialize in advocacy. ‘Lawyer’ is a broader umbrella time period, which additionally consists of solicitors.

We regularly hear the phrases barrister and lawyer used interchangeably. Nonetheless, there’s really an enormous distinction between the 2. 


Advocacy means representing your purchasers and ‘advocating’ for his or her pursuits. Though all attorneys do that, advocacy significantly refers to representing purchasers in Court docket. Being an advocate means you must additionally perceive Court docket etiquette and procedures with the intention to symbolize your case successfully. Advocacy is the specialty of barristers, who’re consultants in presenting authorized arguments at trial.


In Australia, ‘lawyer’ is the broad time period referring to any one that has been admitted to the authorized occupation. This may be both as a barrister or solicitor. To be a lawyer, an individual should full a bachelor’s or post-graduate diploma in legislation. Additionally they have to receive their Graduate Diploma of Authorized Apply (GDLP). They’re then admitted to the authorized occupation board of their jurisdiction. From this, attorneys in States resembling New South Wales can select whether or not to:

  • Apply as a solicitor and apply for a training certificates from the State Regulation physique
  • Practice to develop into a barrister by sitting for the Bar Examination, endeavor the bar course, coaching beneath a senior barrister, and gaining admission to the bar
  • Be a non-practicing lawyer

Attorneys are inclined to give attention to and construct expertise in sure areas of legislation. Though you could find generalist attorneys, specialist attorneys are consultants of their subject and might provide unparalleled recommendation.

For instance, you could find:

A small enterprise searching for authorized companies may discover it useful to talk to a industrial lawyer, a contract lawyer, or an employment lawyer. Equally, a prison lawyer would have experience in decoding police experiences, reviewing prices, and negotiating with the prosecution.


A Solicitor is somebody with a certificates to apply legislation that’s not a barrister or decide. Generally, in case you have a authorized subject, you’d first discover a solicitor to supply recommendation in your case. Provided that the matter proceeds to Court docket will a barrister be wanted. On this case, the solicitor will retain a barrister with the expertise to efficiently put together and current your case.

Solicitors can seem in Court docket as ‘solicitor advocates’, nevertheless, this isn’t essentially their specialty. Solicitors have experience in making ready documentation, advising purchasers, and discovering authorized options. Typically, a barrister will solely develop into concerned the place a matter goes to trial.

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When authorized disputes enter the Court docket system, barristers are retained by the solicitor answerable for the matter to look. Barristers are consultants in courtroom advocacy and making ready issues for trial. Barristers may even generally put on a white wig and black gown when showing. Just like solicitors, barristers are inclined to specialize in specific areas of legislation. For instance, a barrister who acts for you in a household legislation matter is probably not the only option to symbolize you at a prison trial.

Because of this, barristers additionally command a better payment than solicitors however work independently as sole practitioners (not in a legislation agency). Barristers usually work in quarters referred to as ‘chambers’. These chambers are basically a shared area, near the Court docket, the place a number of barristers work. Barristers pay a ‘ground payment’ to hire out the room in chambers.

Barristers are additionally answerable for acquiring their very own work. Solicitors normally rent barristers on behalf of their purchasers. Barristers construct their consumer base by cultivating skilled relationships with solicitors and legislation companies. Those that have important expertise and ability also can develop into Senior Counsel (SC) or Queen’s Counsel (QC). They’re additionally colloquially known as ‘silks’.

Barristers have an obligation to just accept any and all briefs, as long as it’s in an space of legislation they apply in. This is named the ‘cab-rank rule’. Nonetheless, this rule doesn’t apply to solicitors who can settle for work at their discretion.

Being ‘referred to as to the bar’

Solicitors wishing to develop into barristers in sure jurisdictions must cross a collection of exams. They’re additionally required to undertake a specialised course and bear a 12 months of coaching generally known as a ‘readership’ beneath the steerage of an skilled barrister. Upon profitable completion of those, they’re ‘referred to as to the bar’.

Most of these attorneys have interaction in litigation, advising on the result of circumstances and the strategic components of operating a courtroom case. Barristers additionally draft and overview Court docket paperwork. As Court docket advocates, they’ll conduct courtroom appearances, current their consumer’s case, and argue factors of legislation and proof whereas inspecting the witnesses.

A fused (and unfused) occupation

Guidelines for attorneys and barristers in Australia differ relying on State and Territory. In some Australian States, the authorized occupation is ‘fused’. Which means there isn’t a distinction between barristers and solicitors. Additionally they each belong to the identical skilled society. Barristers can apply as solicitors in a legislation agency and vice versa. Additional, solicitors also can seem in Court docket.

In New South Wales and Queensland, the authorized occupation is just not fused. Which means barristers apply independently and that solicitors don’t normally seem in Court docket. Barristers and solicitors in NSW and QLD are additionally members of separate skilled societies. For instance, the NSW Bar Association and the NSW Regulation Society. A lawyer can’t be a member of each, however should solely apply as a solicitor or barrister.


Attorneys and barristers have a pure overlap of their roles as members of the authorized occupation. Nonetheless, they aren’t the identical, most notably in NSW and QLD. Barristers are important when a matter goes to trial. Solicitors are instrumental at each step earlier than that making ready claims, affidavits, and correspondence. Each barristers and solicitors are attorneys – regardless of their roles within the authorized system being completely different.

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