The difference between Barrister and Solicitor

Each has a specific role in the legal system



In the United States, an attorney at law (alternative terms: counsellor-at-law or lawyer) is a practitioner in a court of law who is legally qualified to prosecute and defend actions in such court on the retainer of clients. In 2014, an estimated 58 million consumers in the U.S. sought legal help from one of the 1.200.000 licensed attorneys.
Unlike many other Common Law jurisdictions, the United States legal system does not make a distinction between lawyers who plead in court and those who do not.


A Barrister (Barrister-at-Law) is a lawyer in the legal system of England, Wales and other (former) countries of the Commonwealth, which was molded by the legal tradition of the see Common Law.

Barristers spend a lot of their time in court, dealing with witnesses, addressing the Judge and talking to other barristers. In Scotland, the equivalent to the barrister of the English legal system is the advocate.

Their role is to advocate before the Court, drafting legal pleading and they need the skills to "build" a case. In Ireland, England, and Wales, barristers usually wear a horsehair wig and a gown. They are recognized as legal scholars whereas solicitors are more into the day to day business. This could be interpreted as some sort of discrimination, but has to be put into the perspective of the principle of the common law, to rely for centuries, heavily on precedents, and to a much lesser extent on written law. Thus, highly qualified experts which also have a historical and philosophical understanding of the law are needed, when “new” precedents are “created” by new rulings.


Solicitors have specialist knowledge of different areas of the law such as family, finance, crime, property and employment. They give legal advice to clients, undertake negotiations and draft legal documents. In the past, a solicitor’s advocacy work was restricted to lower-courts, like magistrates’ courts. But there are exceptions to this rule.
Both, barristers and solicitors can become judges, although (somehow understandable) more judges come from the bar than from the ranks of solicitors.