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#89833 - 12/18/02 10:58 AM lawyers
rav Offline

Registered: 12/07/02
Posts: 122
Loc: Poland, Cracow
what is the exact difference between a lawyer and an attorney? or maybe is it the same?

#89834 - 12/18/02 11:14 AM Re: lawyers
dxb Offline

Registered: 03/06/02
Posts: 1692
Loc: UK
And is there a difference between either or both of them and what we in the UK call solicitors and barristers?

#89835 - 12/18/02 11:16 AM Re: lawyers
maahey Offline

Registered: 12/03/02
Posts: 555
I am not very certain rav, but I do not think that there is a clearly defined difference between the two terms. Just that, 'attorney' is more in use in the US, whereas lawyers or solicitors is the more common term in the UK and the Commonwealth. A solicitor however, is a lawyer who operates, somewhat on the lower rungs of the legal hierarchy. That however sets me thinking as to why one of the highest legal advisory posts in government is termed a 'Solicitor General'? Any legal eagles out there that can throw more light on this?

#89836 - 12/18/02 11:18 AM Re: lawyers
maahey Offline

Registered: 12/03/02
Posts: 555
I believe solicitors report to barristers dxb.

#89837 - 12/18/02 11:58 AM Re: lawyers
dxb Offline

Registered: 03/06/02
Posts: 1692
Loc: UK
As I understand it, a solicitor starts the selection process that delivers a barrister to lead a case in court, but I am interested in how that compares with the US situation. Does an attorney take the solicitor role or the barrister role or both?

#89838 - 12/18/02 12:23 PM Re: lawyers
rkay Offline

Registered: 12/13/00
Posts: 144
Loc: London, UK
Warning - somewhat lengthy!

The whole 'solicitor/barrister' debate is somewhat complicated and the distinction is becoming slightly more blurred than used to be the case. To say that a solicitor reports to a barrister is not strictly true, but does apply in some cases. Confused yet?

Becoming a solicitor or a barrister are two completely different career choices, with completely different training routes.

Solicitors are regulated by The Law Society(www.lawsociety.org.uk). To become a solicitor you do your law degree or post-grad legal conversion course, then you do a years professional academic training (Legal Practice Course) and then two years as an 'articled clerk' - where you spend approx 6 months in each of the major departments within a firm. Only after that are you qualified. (min. time commitment = 6 years)

To become a barrister you also have to do your law degree or post-grad conversion. Then, you go to Bar School for a year and then have to do your 'pupillage' with any one of the sets of barristers chambers. Their regulatory body is The Bar Council. You can find out more at www.barcouncil.org.uk (min. time commitment = 5 years)

The principle difference between the two is that barristers are entitled to represent clients in court - any court. Increasingly however solicitors are becoming entitled to represent clients in certain areas in the lower courts and also (I think) in tribunals and so on. The whole thing is fairly contentious though.

As such, if a solicitor had a case that would likely need to go to court or needed advice on a fine point of law which they knew a particular barrister specialised in, then they would instruct counsel to take the case or to give their opinion.

So - the basic answer is, barristers are not superior to solicitors, or the other way round - they're just different. To prove the point, I know of several people who have initially trained as barristers and later re-qualified as solicitors!

[I haven't been keeping completely up to date with the solicitor-advocate issue, so forgive me if I'm slightly off-base on that bit!]

To complicate the issue still more, our top legal position is actually the Attorney-General (but I think that's about the only time we use the word), who is assisted by the Solicitor-General - see http://www.cjsonline.org/working/attorney.html for a definition. The Solicitor-General is an MP and has Cabinet ranking - at the moment it's Harriet Harman QC, MP.

#89839 - 12/18/02 12:25 PM Re: lawyers
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
There are lawyers who never go to court. I suspect that to use the title "attorney at law" you
must have been licenced and admitted to the bar.
My understanding of English difference is that solicitors can handle all law work that does not
call for appearance in court to represent a client, which is permitted only to barristers.

Where is sparteye, when we need her?

#89840 - 12/18/02 12:42 PM Re: lawyers
dxb Offline

Registered: 03/06/02
Posts: 1692
Loc: UK
Thanks rkay, that was understandable, interesting and succinct. But, as said above, I am still curious as to how that compares with the US situation. Does an attorney take the solicitor role or the barrister role or both? I think that would go some way to answer rav's query too. I believe wwh is right in what he says, but suspect there are more complications! Another thing that isn't clear to me is how Judges are appointed in the US. I have some idea how this is done in the UK and am not impressed with the process or the results of it (realising that that statement is a gross generalisation - we have had some impressive Judges. There was that chap Jeffries for instance).

#89841 - 12/18/02 12:46 PM Re: lawyers
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
Lawyers and attorneys are the same.

That said, attorneys cost more!

#89842 - 12/18/02 03:07 PM Re: lawyers
boronia Offline

Registered: 02/18/02
Posts: 322
Loc: Toronto, Canada
In Canada, we do not use the term attorney to mean lawyer - unless we watch a lot of American tv. We have an Attorney-General and a Solicitor-General, but no Barrister-General!!

When we are called to the bar as lawyers, we can act as solicitors and/or barristers -- same education, same articling requirement (in Ontario, it was one year when I did it, but now I think it is only 10 months), same Bar Admission Course and Exams, and same governing body (in Ontario, the Law Society of Upper Canada - each province has its own). I'm a little foggy on this, but we might have had to take 2 separate oaths (if we did, they were both mandatory for all).

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