Understanding the Difference Between a Barrister and a Solicitor

You’re probably wondering what distinguishes a barrister from a solicitor. Though both are lawyers, their roles have traditionally been quite distinct. Let’s break down the differences and see how these roles are evolving today.

Traditional Roles 

Historically, solicitors and barristers have had clearly defined roles within the legal system: 


These are the lawyers you typically find on the high street, dealing directly with the public. They handle a wide range of legal matters, including giving advice, preparing documents, and sometimes representing clients in lower courts. They are usually the first point of contact for legal issues. 


Traditionally, barristers were the ones who represented clients in higher courts. They were usually hired by solicitors to provide specialist advice and advocacy in court. Barristers are known for their expertise in courtroom advocacy and legal interpretation. 

Evolving Roles 

In recent years, the lines between these two professions have started to blur. Changes in the legal profession have allowed for more flexibility in how barristers and solicitors can operate: 

Direct Access Barristers: Nowadays, barristers, such as myself, can take on cases directly from clients without the need for a solicitor intermediary. This is known as public access or direct access. This means that barristers can now perform many of the tasks traditionally done by solicitors, including case preparation, application drafting, and client representation at appeals. 

Greater Client Interaction: With direct access, barristers engage more closely with clients, much like solicitors. This allows for a more streamlined process and can often be more cost-effective for clients. 

Key Takeaway 

The most important aspect, whether you choose a barrister or a solicitor, is to ensure you get a good lawyer who is experienced and capable of handling your specific legal needs. The choice between a barrister and a solicitor may come down to the specifics of your case and the type of legal expertise required. In summary, while the traditional roles of barristers and solicitors are distinct, modern legal practices have created a more integrated approach, allowing barristers to take on a broader range of legal work directly from clients. The crucial factor remains the quality and expertise of the lawyer you choose, whether a barrister or a solicitor.

If you have an immigration problems, please contact Paul Turner, an experienced direct access immigration barrister at Imperium Chambers, on 020 7242 3488. Paul has over 25 years’ experience in the field of immigration and would be delighted to assist with any visa or settlement, or any type of immigration issue you have.

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