What is a Barrister?
A barrister comes under the umbrella term ‘lawyer’. Whilst lawyers come in different forms, a barrister is a lawyer who specialises in advocating for clients within a courtroom during a trial or litigation. They will often undertake the drafting of court documents and will be the individual that appears in the courtroom to argue a client’s case.
Barristers operate differently to solicitors, they owe a duty to the court and usually operate independently, separate from a regular law firm. They will therefore need to be briefed by a solicitor in order to undertake a case. Importantly, barristers are bound by what is known as the ‘cab rank rule’. This rule basically prevents barristers from being selective of the cases that are put before them. The rule forces a barrister to undertake a case unless they have a legitimate excuse.
When do I need a Barrister?
Due to a barristers speciality, the vast majority of clients will be in touch with a barrister after consulting with a solicitor. Most solicitors have strong relationships with barristers and if a case undertaken by a solicitor needs to be heard in court, they will contact a suitable barrister to argue a client’s case. In some circumstances, barristers have direct input into alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes. Further, Barristers will need to be briefed by a solicitor unless they take work under the Public Access Scheme.
When do I need a Lawyer?
Because of the nature of the work barristers undertake, in almost all circumstances it is still more effective and efficient to see a solicitor for your legal needs. A main reason to find a lawyer is that they often have the resources and knowledge of a particular area of law and therefore know the intricacies regarding your legal issue. Different lawyers may include:
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