There are several different terms used for legal professionals here in Australia - but which is which?
While nobody plans to be on the wrong side of the law or in need of legal support, should the unexpected happens - it's important to know who to go to.
So, if you're not sure what the differences are between the various legal professions, read on!
What is a Lawyer?
The term ‘Lawyer' is an umbrella term used to describe any person qualified to provide legal advice in one or more fields of law.
In Australia, it's often used interchangeably with the term ‘solicitor', but it can also refer to barristers who have been admitted to the bar and are practicing law. Solicitors, barristers, judges and corporate counsels are all types of lawyers.
What about an Attorney?
You've probably heard this term referred to on Suits
and Law & Order,
but ‘Attorney' is not commonly used in Australia. It's more of a U.S. thing, and is another term for a lawyer.
What is a Solicitor?
A solicitor is a lawyer who provides legal advice and assistance to clients on a wide range of legal matters. They're the go-to if you need legal guidance on a particular issue, or legal services such as preparing contracts, negotiating settlements, and business sales. Basically, they keep the legal system running like a well-oiled machine!
Most solicitors will specialise in specific areas, for example:
The legal process can be overwhelming and stressful, so it's crucial to reach out to a knowledgeable professional with a record of success in the area of law you require.
Some solicitors may represent their clients in court, but many don't. Their role is more in advising clients, preparing legal documentation, handling negotiations outside of court, and engaging and briefing barristers to represent their client in the courtroom. They may be employed by private law firms, large organisations, or the government.
What is a Barrister?
The key difference between a barrister and a solicitor is that a barrister specialises in representing clients in court, while a solicitor focusses more on the preparation of paperwork and cases and providing legal guidance.
While solicitors do have the right to represent their clients in court, they usually prefer to brief barristers to do so - especially in the higher courts such as the District Court and Supreme Court.
Barristers generally start off as solicitors, and after several years working in a particular field of law, go on to earn a barrister's practising certificate. Their role is to speak for you in court, present evidence, cross-examine witnesses and argue your case.
Now that you know the difference between these terms, you can choose the right legal professional for your needs.
Whether you require legal advice or representation, there's someone to help take the pressure off with reliable advice and guidance, every step of the way!