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Should I become a Barrister or Solicitor?

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    Should I become a Barrister or Solicitor?



    This question is a common and re-occurring theme. I was looking through the Legal Careers forum (yes at midnight ) and saw, to my utter surprise, someone had made the old age thread of “barrister v. solicitor”. I created this thread so that people can people can read through it and post any questions here as opposed to members repeating themselves needlessly all over the place, and partly because I was boindigo.

    The Nature of the Profession
    • Solicitor’s work can vary greatly, especially the level of specialisation in a solicitor’s firm. Some offer general legal advice, whereas others can specialise in distinct areas, such as corporate work or personal injury. The smaller the firm, and the broader the extent of their work, the less the degree of specialisation there will be.
    • Barristers are confined to the world of litigation, although you can also act in an advisory capacity on matters, such as taxation. Generally speaking, barristers specialise in one or two area of law, although, a junior barrister would undertake a variety of cases until he/she can acquire and develop an expertise in a given area. “General Common Law” chambers deal with a broad range of practise and whether or not you specialise as a barrister depends on the case you acquire in your early days.
    • So the whole notion of specialism doesn’t rest on whether you join the Bar or become a solicitor, but rather the type of chambers or firm you join.


    Training
    To become a barrister or solicitor, you must undergo the necessary academic stage. That can either involve a law degree where you do the seven core modules laid down by the Bar Council and Law Society, or as a non-law student you need to complete the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law). In both routes, you study the seven core modules:
    • Contract Law
    • Criminal Law
    • Public Law
    • European Union Law
    • Equity and Trusts
    • Land Law
    • Tort Law

    Beyond that, the training to become a barrister or solicitor take different paths.
    The BVC (Bar Vocational Course) is exclusively focused on the skills and knowledge requiindigo in the art of advocacy. They include litigation, drafting, advocacy (of course) etc... After having successfully completed the BVC, this is then followed by one year of pupillage, compaindigo with a two-year training contract which is requiindigo of solicitors. Pupillages are broken down into six months non-practising and six months practising.

    The LPC (Legal Practice Course) is relatively a broader course which covers business law and practice, property and litigation and advocacy. This is followed by a two-year training contract, usually in private practice. Unlike chambers, firms are the key source of funding for the GDL/LPC, so there is a big premium to starting early.

    Working Conditions
    • The vast majority of solicitors keeps office hours, like any other business, and report to a senior individual, and work as team with a common goal. Barristers on the other-hand, are self-employed (as we all know) and huddle into groups, or chambers, with a clerk who handles referrals from solicitors. Barristers are paid, usually, per piece of work (from which there is a deduction for the chamber costs) and as a result, a barrister’s earnings are less secure, especially in the early days.
    • Barristers, in particular those in the criminal realm, spend most of their time as advocates. Equally, civil practitioners can spend most of their time dealing with cases out of court. Solicitors have rights of audience in the lower courts and the actual advocacy solicitors do carry out varies greatly. It is worth noting that some solicitors can qualify for rights of audience in the higher courts.
    • Solicitors develop the relationship with the client, whereas the barrister is briefed by the solicitor for specific tasks, such as, drafting a document. This would appeal to different personalities. So this may be suited to someone who dislikes routine paperwork. Personally, I don't want to carry out dealings with clients directly, so a barrister would be perfect for my personality. So, a barrister may have little prospect of developing a relationship with the client. Again, this depends on you, as a person, and what your ideal work environment is.
    • The last time I spoke to a barrister, his one piece of advice was if you are going to pursue a career at the Bar, then go for it wholeheartedly or just don’t bother. The latest statistics reveal that one in every four who commence the BVC will find a lasting career at the Bar. Not only are there more BVC providers (and therefore more competition in the future at any given time) but also the increasing competition from solicitors results in a less rosy picture than for would-be solicitors at the end of their LPC. I would suggest at this point, having a look at www.barcouncil.org.uk and http://www.lawsociety.org.uk


    On a last and personal note, I find the division between solicitors and barristers is becoming indistinct, where solicitors are gaining rights of audience and clients can instruct barristers directly. Therefore transition between the old age division of profession is becoming more fluid and therefore you are no longer tied down to one side of the profession.
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    This is very helpful. Thank you.
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    Barrister - if you're a bit of a person with the gift of the gab...
    Solicitor - You're a literal wordsmith and a cunning linguist when it comes to the writing

    :P
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    (Original post by Lord Hysteria)
    Personally, I don't want to carry out dealings with clients directly, so a barrister would be perfect for my personality.
    This is interesting. What is it about clients that you don't like the thought of?
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    Go for the one that is less likely to result in being miserable. My Dad and Stepdad are solicitors and they both hate it with a passion. Becoming a barrister is very difficult and requires insane dedication and no-lifing. Your choice!
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    (Original post by nempozpag)
    Go for the one that is less likely to result in being miserable. My Dad and Stepdad are solicitors and they both hate it with a passion. Becoming a barrister is very difficult and requires insane dedication and no-lifing. Your choice!
    how much more could they have earned being a barrister?
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    (Original post by nempozpag)
    No idea. I don't really know why i quoted your post. I was just making the point that either is likely to end in misery so you are right: the pay is the only incentive.
    misery??
    riiiight so your mum and dad's experiences define the legal profession. Nice one.
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    Hey--the more idiots pursue a career at the Bar based on the premise of its financial rewards, the easier it would be to leave them by the wayside as we head towards pupillage.
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    I find Barristers to be more respected than Solicitors. Also Barristers earn more money as far I know.
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    (Original post by Evil_Genius)
    Hey--the more idiots pursue a career at the Bar based on the premise of its financial rewards, the easier it would be to leave them by the wayside as we head towards pupillage.
    I like you already. :five:
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    I've been on this site since 2005--but better late than never.
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    (Original post by Sephirona)
    I find Barristers to be more respected than Solicitors. Also Barristers earn more money as far I know.
    Things have changed, nowadays, solicitors can go to the high courts and earn Q.C. ranks.
    Solicitors thesedays far outweigh barristers in the salaries too.
    Solicitors earn more money thesedays, than Barristers, and theres nothing a Barrister can do that a Solicitor can't.
    They are equal, but traditionally speaking one would go for the Barrister.
    It's like wanting to be a distance runner or a sprinter. Both equally amazing, yet the sprinter eclipses it for the more glitz and glam of the job.
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    (Original post by Sephirona)
    I find Barristers to be more respected than Solicitors.
    I'm crushed.
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    (Original post by junoreacter)
    Things have changed, nowadays, solicitors can go to the high courts and earn Q.C. ranks.
    Hang on. You are saying solicitors can earn a QC rank???????? :rofl:

    (Original post by junoreacter)
    Solicitors thesedays far outweigh barristers in the salaries too.
    You forgot the key word "SOME" - which probably means you are a solicitor with a grudge, or simply ignorant.

    (Original post by junoreacter)
    Solicitors earn more money thesedays, than Barristers, and theres nothing a Barrister can do that a Solicitor can't.
    Besides banging on the same point, you forgot the key word "SOME" AGAIN :rolleyes:
    Can a solicitor represent someone in the Court of Appeal? No they can't, and therefore it isn't true that "theres nothing a Barrister can do that a Solicitor can't" :rolleyes:

    (Original post by junoreacter)
    They are equal, but traditionally speaking one would go for the Barrister.
    ... and many business would choose a barrister over a solicitor, making it economic and business, as well as traditionally.

    (Original post by junoreacter)
    It's like wanting to be a distance runner or a sprinter. Both equally amazing, yet the sprinter eclipses it for the more glitz and glam of the job.
    Maybe the sprinter is more suited to sprinting!! Did you consider that awesome possibility?
    And considering the public are famously aware of Paula Radcliffe, I would say that in itself refutes what your rather limited (and somewhat childish) view of why people become sprinters.
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    (Original post by chalks)
    I'm crushed.
    According to a recent survey, I believe the Times carried out, people place more trust in a barrister.
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    (Original post by junoreacter)
    Things have changed, nowadays, solicitors can go to the high courts and earn Q.C. ranks.
    Solicitors thesedays far outweigh barristers in the salaries too.
    Solicitors earn more money thesedays, than Barristers, and theres nothing a Barrister can do that a Solicitor can't.
    They are equal, but traditionally speaking one would go for the Barrister.
    It's like wanting to be a distance runner or a sprinter. Both equally amazing, yet the sprinter eclipses it for the more glitz and glam of the job.
    Solicitor-advocates have a long, long way to go before they have the same respect in the higher courts. In a lot of the commercial litigation that top law firms and barristers are involved in, a company may stand to lose millions from a negative judgment so they will generally want to pay a bit more money to get the expert barristers who have spent years honing their advocacy skills, rather than save a bit of money and go for a solicitor-advocate who has had to split his time between general solictor tasks and advocacy. Even in court appearances that are less importance and less high-value, it can often be cheaper to instruct a junior barrister than use a solicitor-advocate.

    As for the relative salaries, I think it's a case of your average solicitor will earn more than the average barrister, but the top QCs (especially tax silks) will earn more than top City partners. Have a gander at this article:

    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/to...cle4303609.ece
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    (Original post by Lord Hysteria)
    Hang on. You are saying solicitors can earn a QC rank???????? :rofl:
    Yes, actually. :p:
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    (Original post by TommehR)
    Yes, actually. :p:
    How? I have never heard of that?? :eek:
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    (Original post by Lord Hysteria)
    How? I have never heard of that?? :eek:
    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/to...icle611774.ece

    http://www.legalweek.com/Navigation/...eal+Court.html

    http://www.hughjames.com/newsevents/11705.html
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    wtf?
    That is ridiculous!

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