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What is the difference between a barrister and Solicitor?

Madison Legal > Legal Advice  > What is the difference between a barrister and Solicitor?

What is the difference between a barrister and Solicitor?

What is the difference between a barrister and Solicitor?

Briefly, barristers usually practise as advocates representing their clients in court. On the other hand, solicitors tend to do the majority of their legal work in a law firm or in the office. In today’s blog, we have a look at the major differences between the two.

Barrister and Solicitor

What does a barrister do?


A barrister, sometimes referred to as Counsel, is a qualified legal professional who offers specialist advice whilst representing, providing advocacy, and defending a client in court or at a tribunal.


They are the lawyers who present the case at Court but will also provide specialist advice to the client in relation to the strategy of a case and on the merits and quantum (the value of the claim). It is also usual for a barrister to draft the pleadings in a case (such as the particulars of claim or defence).


Normally, a firm of solicitors instructs a barrister to assist with the litigation. They are not normally client facing and do not have day to day conduct of the litigation. Therefore, it is not unusual for a firm of solicitors to instruct a barrister on an ad hoc basis, for example, to draft the particulars of claim or to undertake the advocacy in Court. 

Our commercial litigation barristers offer clear guidance and early strategic advice on your options to give you the optimal advantage in bringing or defending a commercial litigation dispute.

What is a KC?


A KC, or King’s Counsel (formerly a QC, or Queen’s Counsel) is a lawyer, usually a barrister (although a solicitor can be appointed as a KC).

Appointments are made from within the legal profession on the basis of merit rather than a particular level of experience. However, successful applicants tend to be barristers with at least 15 to 20 years of experience. Therefore, a KC is a barrister who is at the top of her or his profession. Their role is usually to advise on an overall strategy and to present a particularly complex or high value case in Court. If instructed, they will usually assist with drafting the pleadings.


Do I need a KC?


This will depend on the value and or complexity of the case. Given the seniority of A KC, they are naturally more expensive than a Junior Barrister. However, where a case merits instructing a KC, it is normal to also instruct a Junior Barrister to assist the KC. This actually works out more cost effective as the junior will do much of the research and the first draft of any pleadings and, if before the Court, the skeleton arguments.


What is a solicitor?


In the UK, the role of a solicitor is to have the day to day and overall conduct of a case. A solicitor will take instructions from clients and advise them on necessary courses of legal action. The solicitor will be the first point of contact for a client and will be responsible to conducting the litigation, for example, entering into correspondence with the opposing party, gathering the evidence, providing advice to the client, filing documents and bundles at Court, and dealing with payments to third parties, such as the Court or barristers.


A solicitor, in theory, can undertake all the roles a barrister does and can obtain ‘rights of audience’ which enables them to represent clients in court. However, given the different specialities it is often advisable to instruct both a barrister and solicitor as they have different specialities and strengths. Therefore, they should be seen as complementarity, especially for high value and /or complex cases.


How does Madison Legal differ from most law firms?


Madison Legal is a London law firm whose Partners were highly trained in some of the leading City and International firms and Chambers. However, our unique structure means that you can obtain specialist commercial litigation barristers’ advice without the overheads of other firms. This means our litigation barristers offer the best advice at highly competitive rates.


A barrister led commercial litigation advice in London 


Our in-house team of commercial litigation barristers and solicitors led by Daniel Feetham KC and Rowan Pennington-Benton will be on board from day one. This means that we can discuss the best litigation strategy from the beginning of your matter to ensure the best results in a cost effective and timeous manner. 

Our expert team of commercial dispute resolution barristers and solicitors can offer strategic advice and representation with particular expertise in complex and high-level disputes often with an international element.


Edward Miller is the solicitor-advocate within the team. Edward will work closely with Madison’s inhouse counsel. This means that Madison Legal is able to act as a one-stop shop of barristers and solicitors, which often means that a client will not need to also instruct an external barrister.

How can our commercial litigation barristers & solicitors assist you with a dispute?


Our commercial dispute resolution barristers offer clear guidance and early strategic advice on your options to give you the optimal advantage in bringing or defending a commercial litigation dispute.


We will aim to try to resolve your dispute at the earliest possible stage by advising on making the appropriate applications, such as an application for a freezing injunction, freezing order or pre-action disclosure and providing considered advice on engaging in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).


Contact our litigation barristers team today

Now after learning the difference between a barrister and Solicitor;  arrange your initial, no obligation consultation with our litigation barristers and solicitors in London. For a free, no-obligation, initial discussion of how we may be able to help, please contact us. Call us on 0204 5384215 or make an inquiry online.