Sometimes, a client may be confused over what kind of legal professional they are hiring.
We are all used to hearing different references to lawyers in TV and media, but are these same terms applicable in Queensland? Why do we hear the term ‘attorney’ in busy areas like Brisbane and the Gold Coast?
Fortunately, East Coast Injury Lawyers is here to help with a few definitions that can help sort out the mild confusion of the situation.
Attorney and Advocate
An attorney or an advocate is a term for lawyers in the United States. We may hear this sometimes because it is a common term used in popular legal TV shows such as Suits.
However, in Australia we refer to legal professionals as Lawyers, Solicitors or Barristers.
When we refer to a lawyer in Brisbane and other areas in Queensland, we are referring to either a Solicitor or a Barrister. In other states, a lawyer may practice as both a solicitor and barrister. However, in Queensland, lawyers must choose to be either a barrister or solicitor.
Solicitors are highly trained legal professionals who are meant to protect your legal interest and guide you through the legal process.
When you have a legal issue, it is a solicitor who you will see first and work directly with. They will give you the initial legal advice that you need to start a claim and to go through the legal process.
Solicitors prepare your case and summarize and analyse all the information, facts and evidence in a ‘brief’. A brief is then given with instructions to a Barrister, who will provide a written opinion (counsel’s advice) on your case. If needed, a Barrister will represent you in court with the solicitor and argue your case directly with a judge.
Solicitors have a right to appear in any court, but they usually represent clients in the Magistrates Court. You will most likely see Barristers represent clients in the higher courts.
A Barrister is a lawyer who specialises in court advocacy, which includes preparing pleadings for court cases and forming specialised legal opinions. They generally do not prepare wills, contracts or conveyancing, though they do advise on them.
Most judges are usually chosen from experienced Barristers, although solicitors have also previously been appointed as judges.
You may hear the term “Queens Counsel (QC)” or “Senior Counsel (SC).” These terms are a reference to describe the most experienced Barristers. A generic slang term for a QC or an SC is a “Silk.” The term “Silk” comes from the silk gowns that are awarded to a QC, which is known informally as “taking silk.”
Why do I need both a Barrister and Solicitor?
Think of your Solicitor and Barrister as a medical team. If you get sick, you fist see a general practitioner (GP) to find out what is wrong with you. Then you get a referral from your GP to see a Specialist.
This is similarly how your legal team works. Your Solicitor will provide the initial legal advice and legal work and then prepare a brief for your Barrister who will handle your claim in court.
Why can’t I contact a Barrister directly?
A Barrister has a professional duty to not deal directly with the public. They deal with clients only through solicitors.
Another reason why this is the case is also the very nature of the Barrister profession. They are constantly moving around in or out of court, or researching legal issues for numerous cases. Thus, it is impractical for them to maintain office hours to speak with clients.
Would you like to meet your legal team for your claim?
East Coast Injury Lawyers is led by accredited specialists in personal injury who can help you with your accident claim. The best way to see if East Coast Injury Lawyers is the right legal professionals for you is to meet us.
Simply contact us at 1300 720 544 or fill out our case review form.