What Is The Difference Between A Lawyer And A Solicitor?

solicitor and lawyer

‘What Is The Difference Between A Lawyer And A Solicitor?’ is one of the biggest questions people ask when seeking legal guidance. However, the answer is pretty simple – they are two words for the same thing.

A solicitor is a lawyer employed by a professional law firm or LLP. They are there to help you with many aspects of your case and work on various areas, such as criminal law, family law and conveyancing.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the different types of lawyers, what they do, and what they might be able to help you with.

Let’s get into it!

What Is A Lawyer?

Simply put, a lawyer is someone qualified to practise law. Solicitors, Barristers, Litigators and Paralegals are all types of lawyers – but they specialise in slightly different areas of the law.

To become a lawyer, a person must first undergo a law degree at a registered university (an LLB) and then take a Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). They must complete two years of legal work experience, usually under a training contract.

Once their work experience is complete, they will take a Solicitors Regulation Authority exam (SRE) which ensures that they meet the ‘character and sustainability’ requirements for the job. Once this is passed, they can apply to be added to the role of Solicitors, giving them the legal qualifications to act as a legal defence for a client.

What Is A Paralegal?

A paralegal is someone who assists lawyers with their work. They will often be employed within a law firm to help with cases. They share many of the same responsibilities as lawyers; however, they are not qualified to present in court and will most usually assist more with the admin and gathering evidence side of a case.

Many trainee solicitors will work as paralegals as they work their way up through a law firm. It’s the best way to understand what happens within a firm and the daily duties that a fully-qualified lawyer has.

What Is A Solicitor?

A solicitor is a type of lawyer. It’s a common misconception that there’s a big difference between the two, as they’re often interchangeable names for the same thing. Usually, a solicitor is a lawyer employed by a firm to look after a client’s interests. They can work in many different areas of law, but their main jobs when it comes to defending a client include things such as:

  • Advising clients
  • Checking legal documents
  • Providing a legal opinion
  • Drawing up contracts
  • Knowing the law

There are, however, many different types of solicitors with different specialisms. This helps find the perfect person to work with every client, strengthening communication and outcomes. Some of the main types of specialist solicitors include:

  • Criminal law – criminal lawyers are the most well-known type of lawyer. They will either work in defence or prosecution and fight for one side of the case.
  • Conveyancing – conveyancing solicitors work within property law. They handle all the legal aspects of buying and selling property for their clients. This can be as minimal as homeowners buying a house to rent out or as big as a major real estate company using a team of solicitors to acquire numerous properties.
  • Family Law – a ‘family lawyer’ is a type of solicitor who works to amend family issues, such as those wanting a divorce or arguing for custody of children. They may also be responsible for helping clients draw up a final will and testament.

What Is A Barrister?

Barristers are a type of legal professionals who represent you in the courtroom, usually at the request of a solicitor. Their main job is ‘legal advocacy’, which means to advocate on one party’s behalf and ‘advocate’ for them within a tribunal.

They provide legal counsel to you before taking the stand and can provide written opinions on the possible outcomes. However, a solicitor will do most of the prep work before taking the case to court.

A solicitor or chartered legal executive would be the person who meets with you before the case, does the administrative work and provides the main aspects of legal advice. Therefore, a solicitor would likely prepare your evidence, but a barrister would read through it and decide how best to use it in court.

Barristers tend to specialise in one specific area of law, which is their strength when defending you in a court. In court, they must do the following:

  • Present your case to the jury
  • Examine and cross-examine witnesses
  • Argue on your behalf
  • Negotiating court settlements

Simply put, it is their job to convince the jury that you are innocent or reduce your sentence to the lowest amount possible.

What Is A Litigator?

Litigators are attorneys specialising in litigation or taking legal action against people and organisations.

While solicitors and barristers will often handle the trial portion of a case together (with the solicitor collecting evidence and the barrister presenting it), a litigation lawyer will handle every element of the case from start to finish.

Litigators will often work on large cases, such as corporate cases where big companies are suing each other or if there is a major dispute to be resolved.

So, What Is The Difference Between A Lawyer And A Solicitor?

The short answer is – that there is none. A solicitor is simply a type of lawyer; a lawyer is anyone fully qualified to practice law.

We hope this article has given you useful insight into the types of lawyers and what they can help you with. Remember that there is no shame in seeking legal help – lawyers are there because they are passionate about defending the rights of their clients and will work on your side to help you win your case.

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