HomeLawyer ArticlesWhat Is the Difference Between a Solicitor and A Barrister in Australia?

What Is the Difference Between a Solicitor and A Barrister in Australia?

These two terms might be used interchangeably in most places around the world, but in Australia there’s a crucial difference between what these two legal professionals do. A solicitor’s main job is to represent their clients in court and to negotiate with other parties involved in criminal cases, such as the prosecution or the defendants themselves.

On the other hand, barristers are more often than not tasked with arguing cases on behalf of their clients before the courts, and they’re also expected to perform extensive research into relevant case law and law codes before presenting their arguments to judges and juries alike.

Barrister Vs Solicitor

In this section, we’ll look at two professionals who work in Australian court systems barrister and solicitor. Both barrister and solicitor are legal professionals, but they’re considered very different from one another. We’ll go over some examples of how their roles can differ as well as some historical background on how these professions came to be.


A barrister or barrister-at-law is a solicitor who is qualified to act as a lawyer in higher courts. A barrister can give legal advice and represent clients in courts, but cannot represent people or businesses before government agencies. To become a barrister, you must have at least five years of experience working under another attorney, pass two exams (the Bar exam and one relating to your area of law), then attend an accredited course at an Australian National University campus. Members are called senior counsel once they are admitted.

Roles of a Barrister

There are several important distinctions between the roles of a solicitors and barristers. In this section, we will look at the roles of a barrister and then compare them to those of a solicitor. As with all questions related to criminal law in Australia, there is no one-size-fits-all answer; always remember that each state has its own particular nuances that can affect your case.

1. Argue On Behalf of Their Client

A barrister helps in a court case to prosecute (persecute) or defend a client. It is important to remember that there are two sides in any legal case, so you must have both a barrister and a solicitor (lawyer). Most often you will see barristers representing their clients when one party wants to sue another; however, they are also used for civil cases, debt recovery actions and family law cases.

2. Often Appear Before a Judge as A Representative from Their Client’s Side

They may be required to stand up and represent their client by speaking or asking questions when their counsel (their lawyer) isn’t present. In some cases, they are not allowed to speak at all, but must sit behind their barrister to maintain decorum and respect for court proceedings.

3. Appear Without Their Client

In a criminal trial, for example, a barrister may represent someone who has been charged with a crime that they did not commit, but where there is enough evidence to go forward with prosecution. It is important to remember that an accused person does not have to appear at all.

4. Appear Before a Judge to Defend Someone in A Civil Action

This is not to be confused with any criminal proceedings. A barrister may represent one party to help or hinder another’s civil case. In some cases, they will take on both sides so they are advocating for a client as well as against that same client. This can be confusing, but it happens more often than you might think.

5. They May Also Appear Before a Jury as an Advocate for Their Client

This is only if a case has made it to trial, which usually occurs after both parties have tried to reach an agreement on their own but have failed. They may also be asked to write a brief written argument for their client as well as conduct other legal research into any given case.

Often times, barristers are more like lawyers than you might think because they can do much more than simply arguing for or against a case. A good barrister should be able to provide clear advice on what course of action may be best for their client; however, ultimately that decision rests with their solicitor and/or client.


In Australia, solicitor is a catch-all term for both barristers and solicitors. Solicitors are often lawyers who concentrate on transactional law (contracts, wills, commercial leases), while barristers specialize in litigation (criminal cases, civil cases). In any given case, only one barrister is allowed to argue before the judge; their work is called conducting a case.

Roles of A Solicitor

The role of a solicitor is to provide legal services for their clients, which typically include representing them before courts and advising them on how to reduce their risks in certain situations. Solicitors work for law firms or private companies, as well as government agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs), schools, universities, businesses and so on. Additional roles include:

Preparing legal documents – Drafting contracts, reviewing and revising contracts or other documents to ensure they comply with all relevant laws. This may include studying details from a contract, but also checking previous versions of that contract to see if changes have been made over time. Solicitors often double-check these details for errors or inconsistencies.

Interacting with law enforcement agencies – such as when reporting crimes or providing testimony during trials. Some larger organizations may have their own lawyers who handle these interactions on their behalf, but if you’re working for a smaller company, you may be required to take on these responsibilities yourself. In some cases, solicitors may choose to specialize in particular areas of law such as criminal defense or family law.

Representing clients during court proceedings – Solicitors must study relevant laws, legal precedents and evidence to prepare for these cases. They may need to study case files or transcripts from previous hearings as well, so they’re fully prepared for their own appearances in court. Once on-site, solicitors typically have specific roles such as calling witnesses to testify.

Drafting wills or contracts based on client needs – These documents serve as legally binding agreements that state how property is passed down after death and how businesses are distributed upon dissolution, respectively. The documents are tailored to each situation, but solicitors often take care of researching which types of wills would be best for certain situations and creating them accordingly. If a solicitor does not specialize in estate planning or contract law specifically, they will likely work with people who do.

Is A Barrister Higher Than a Solicitor?

Most people wonder if a barrister is more senior than a solicitor. The short answer to that question is no; while barristers certainly have more experience, it’s not at all uncommon for a fresh-faced solicitor to outrank an established barrister. This lack of hierarchy means it can be difficult to distinguish between solicitors and barristers; even their responsibilities can overlap at times.

In Australia, lawyers fall into one of two categories: a solicitor or a barrister. To some, these terms can seem interchangeable; however, there are key differences between solicitors and barristers that even those without legal experience can understand.

The primary difference between solicitors and barristers lies in their training. Solicitors practice law on behalf of individuals or companies by drafting legal documents, representing them during court proceedings, and more. Barristers are independent advocates who conduct litigation. They appear as counsel for one party to a dispute before a judge or jury.


In summation, there are distinct differences between a solicitor and a barrister. A barrister tends to offer more legal services whereas a solicitor will generally focus on one area of law. If you feel you need help with your case but you don’t want to hire a lawyer, then consider speaking with a solicitor instead. Remember that if you are unsure about what sort of court or what type of lawyer is best for your case, speak with someone who can offer reliable information.


1. Are There Lawyers in Australia or Just Solicitors and Barristers?

Lawyers are called Solicitors or Barristers depending on their area of practice, as well as which state they’re practicing law in. In order to become a Solicitor, you’ll need to complete an undergraduate law degree from one of five Australian universities.

2. What’s The Difference Between a Lawyer and A Barrister in Australia?

There are many differences between a lawyer and a barrister when it comes to practicing law in Australia.  They differ in how they work, what kind of cases they can handle, and even how they dress.

3. How Many Types of Lawyers Are There in Australia?

There are two main types of lawyers in Australia: Solicitors & Barristers. The differences between these lawyer positions is vast, so if you’re looking to become a lawyer in Australia, it’s important to know exactly what they do and how they differ from one another.

4. How does each type of lawyer charge you?

When a case goes to court, whether as a criminal or civil matter, there are two types of lawyers who charge you depending on what happens.

5. Who do I call if I want someone to represent me with my legal question/case/trial?

If you are in need of legal representation, contact a barrister or solicitor depending on what kind of question you have.




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