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You are here:   Ultimate Law Guide > Careers Advice > Solicitor vs Barrister

Solicitor -v- Barrister: which path is for you?

If you have reached a crossroads in your career journey, where you are still yet to decide whether you would like to be a barrister or solicitor, we would urge you to get some work experience at a law firm (known as a vacation placement), and chambers (known as a mini-pupillage). This will help you to find out for yourself what sort of working life is right and suitable for you, and what sort of branch of the legal profession you will enjoy the most. Gaining experience will help you to become better informed when making those all-important career-decisions. Ask yourself which branch of the profession are your experiences, skills and qualifications most suited to? What are your prospects of success: achieving a training contract or pupillage is extremely challenging, but it is worth noting that you statistically have a better chance of becoming a solicitor.

 
Below is a list that may help your decision making process:

  • Solicitors are involved in commercial transactions from its commencement to completion. Barristers will not necessarily get the same exposure to a deal, as they only tend to get involved on an ad-hoc basis through providing a legal opinion on a point of law.

 

  • Solicitors tend to work in larger teams with a good support networks of legal secretaries and paralegals. Barristers often work more independently, with some support from a pupil barrister.

 

  • A key distinction between a solicitor and barrister is the way they are remunerated financially. A solicitor is employed by their law firm and paid monthly just like any other employee of a company. The role of a solicitor therefore generally provides for more financial certainty, (particularly at the junior level) as they are employed by a law firm on an annual salary and benefits package. Some barristers are employed by law firms, but they are mostly self-employed, where the onus is on the barrister to bring in their own cases and clients. The income of barristers is derived from the fees they charge whilst appearing at court and preparing the cases for the client. Although, more barristers are now being employed in commerce and industry.

 

  • Some students are attracted to the Bar for flexibility it offers, as they are able to take time out if they wish.

 

For more information, refer to the Guide or the Law Society's information on becoming a Solicitor, which can be accessed at www.lawsociety.org.uk/becomingasolicitor.law