There are different types of legal practitioners and each has different qualifications and specialise in different areas. When seeking legal advice, it can be hard to know where to start. It can get quite confusing to know which legal practitioner is right for you, which is why we made this article.
There are two main types of lawyers; solicitors and barristers. However, if you’re searching for a legal practitioner to help with property sales, purchases or transfers, then it may be best to get a conveyancer.
While solicitors and barristers are types of lawyers, conveyancers are not, but can perform similar duties as solicitors, who cannot perform the same duties as barristers. See? It can be confusing to know which one is right for you until you understand the difference and what each legal practitioner does. Thus, this article is here to help decipher these different terms, their duties and which legal practitioner you should contact for different needs.
Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash.
Types of Lawyers
A lawyer is a person who has obtained a legal qualification to practice law and has passed the legal training requirements, which allows them to give legal advice. Therefore, it is important to note that lawyer is a generic term for a legal practitioner, which is why we’ll explain how solicitors and barristers fall into this category.
A solicitor is a legal practitioner who provides legal advice to clients in one or more areas of law. They are lawyers who can prepare cases, give advice and represent clients in lower courts.
Solicitors have completed law degrees and hold practising certificates. Since solicitors are lawyers, the term ‘solicitor’ is not commonly used and they are normally referred to as lawyers.
There are various types of solicitors, from general solicitors (high street solicitors) to property, employment, criminal, divorce, injury, tax and commercial solicitors. They can also draw up wills, although you do not need a solicitor to do this, especially if the will is straight-forward. Solicitors can either have general knowledge or specialise in a specific legal field, which is better for complex cases in that category.
For example, you may seek a general solicitor for general advice, then seek a criminal solicitor for in-depth advice and help throughout the process.
Qualifications a solicitor requires:
- Completed a law degree.
- Holds a practising certificate (obtained after finishing Practical Legal
- Training and completed 18to 24 months of supervised practice).
Solicitors are the first point of contact for individuals or businesses seeking legal advice, services or assistance. Thus, they administer the ongoing legal affairs of their clients. They help with disputes and preparing evidence, claims, negotiations, etc. for court and will be present in court, unless a barrister is needed.
A barrister is a solicitor who’s passed the Bar Examination, making them an expert advocate. They specialise in certain legal fields, allowing them to give topic-specific legal advice and can be instructed by solicitors on behalf of clients with complex court matters. Therefore, they appear in higher court cases, which are more serious and need adequate assistance. Essentially, they are the back-up for solicitors who cannot resolve such issues on their own, as they have more knowledge in specific fields.
While barristers handle more complex matters, the public cannot hire one directly themselves. Most cases do not even need a barrister, so your solicitor can advise if one is required.
Qualifications a barrister requires:
- Completed a law degree.
- Holds a practising certificate (obtained after finishing Practical Legal Training and completed 18 to 24 months of supervised practice).
- Passed the Bar Examination (satisfied the exams of their state’s Bar authority).
What’s the difference between a solicitor and barrister?
A solicitor primarily works outside the courtroom (helping prepare documents, give advice, etc.), while barristers work inside the courtroom (representing clients, appearing in court, etc).
A solicitor and a barrister have a similar relationship as a General Practitioner (GP) and a specialist. While the GP can cover general issues, a specialist will have more knowledge in specific fields. The GP will assess you and may refer you to a specialist if needed, and the two parties may collaborate to help you. Similarly, a solicitor will assess your situation, take appropriate actions, give their advice and may call for a barrister if expert advice is needed.
A barrister will then corroborate with the solicitor and may help with drafting court documents, giving strategic advice, preparing submissions, etc. So, essentially, a barrister is a specialist called upon by a solicitor when their advanced knowledge and skills are needed.
What’s a conveyancer?
A conveyancer is also a licensed professional, but doesn’t have to be a solicitor. They specialise in property law, giving advice and information concerning property sales and transfers.
Conveyancers are commonly used when seeking help with the straightforward transferring of property. Conveyancers help with the process and required documents involved with the selling, buying and transferring of property.
You can have a conveyancer help you with the settlement process, where they will help you provide all the required legal documents. Conveyancers can help assist you with:
- Contract of sale.
- Memorandum of transfer.
- Enquire about property zoning.
- They can represent you with sellers and agents.
Qualifications a conveyancer requires:
- Complete a certified course.
- Two years of supervised experience.
What’s the difference between a conveyancer and solicitor?
While conveyancers only specialise in property law, solicitors have general knowledge of law and may have taken elective courses in property law, giving them specific knowledge about property law. Therefore, conveyancing is an elective to solicitors, who are certified lawyers, allowing them to give expert legal advice conveyancers may not have.
In other words, solicitors can execute the same duties as conveyancers, but have the extra knowledge of law and can therefore give superior legal advice. However, it can be confusing as solicitors may call themselves conveyancers, so it’s always best to double check.
A conveyancer can assist with the transfer of a property, but if the transaction is complex or difficult, then a solicitor will have more knowledge and expertise to handle the case. Moreover, if the property is of high value, a solicitor will normally be hired over a conveyancer.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is true at the time of publication and is for general informational purposes only. Localsearch (nor) the author are not liable for the misuse of information. Please consult a professional for relevant information to your circumstances.
If you need legal advice, you can find legal practitioners on localsearch.com.au.