What does a solicitor do?

What’s the difference between a lawyer, a solicitor and a barrister?

The term lawyer is a generic term used to describe anyone who is a Licensed Legal Practitioner qualified to give legal advice in one or more areas of law. Put simply, solicitors and barristers are both types of lawyer.

What is a solicitor?

A solicitor is a qualified legal professional and an “Officer of the Court” who provides expert legal advice and support to clients in a particular Legal Jurisdiction (England or Wales). Solicitor's clients can be individuals, groups of people, private companies or public sector organisations PSO’s.

Most solicitors can and do work directly with clients who seek advice. Although, if their area of expertise falls outside the topic being discussed they will naturally consider if the needs of the client is best served by another who is more experienced or qualified. A solicitor’s work may involve conversing with clients to establish if their firm is suitable to provide the required legal advice and service. If they are suitable they can then take instructions and advise their clients on the law, the legal aspects of the case as well as general issues relating to the case the clients wish to advance. A solicitor is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Association [SRA] and they will display their registration number for all to see.

Solicitors represent clients in court and, if necessary, in more complex disputes. Solicitors will often instruct barristers or specialist advocates who will appear in court on behalf of their clients.

If a case does proceed to court, it is unlikely that a solicitor will represent their client although certain solicitors are permitted to appear as advocates.