What is the difference between a lawyer and a solicitor?

Compare The Solicitor 18/06/2015

The word lawyer is frequently used in the UK to describe someone who is licensed to practice the law and provide legal advice

Describing a professional as a lawyer is a generic description of their skills. More precisely the term “lawyer” is a generic one that can be used for both solicitors and barristers.

What does a solicitor do for clients?

Many solicitors specialise in a particular area of law and advise their clients as such. A solicitor will provide legal advice and draft documents such as contracts, prepare papers for court as well as communicate with the other parties in a case on behalf of their client.

Some solicitors are qualified to appear in court to represent their clients but most do not and instead instruct a barrister to carry out court room work for them.

How do solicitors work?

The general process of getting a solicitor to handle your legal requirements is as follows:

  1. Discuss with potential clients their needs and the suitability of the solicitor(s) to provide the correct legal advice
  2. A solicitor will then be instructed by the client to carry out the legal services required.
  3. Advice will be provided to the clients on the law and how it relates to their specific circumstances.
  4. If there is paperwork to be drafted or court papers to prepare, a solicitor will generally co these.
  5. Negotiations with the other parties involved are carried out by the solicitor.
  6. Solicitors can and do appear in court although in highly complex cases a barrister is instead instructed.

In conclusion, the difference between a lawyer and a solicitor is really one of terminology. A lawyer isn’t a solicitor, but a more general term given to someone who practices law in the UK and can also cover barristers as well.

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