Solicitor or Barrister?
In general terms, a solicitor performs legal work in terms of documentation and paperwork typically in an office setting, while a barrister represents their client in court.
Solicitors mainly advise their clients on legal issues, draft legal documents, and hold or mediate discussions between parties that are involved in a low-level legal dispute. Barristers often also offer their expert advice to their clients but also defend them in a court of law. Both types of legal professionals can either be specialised in a specific area of law (e.g. family law) or cover all areas as part of general practice.
There are exceptions to the rule in both cases, as the line is sometimes blurred between the two job descriptions. Nevertheless, choosing a qualified lawyer either for your business or for your personal needs can be a tricky process.
It is often the case that a client will need to see a solicitor first before meeting with a barrister, as not all cases will require a court procedure. However, it is possible to see a barrister without seeing a solicitor first in select areas, mainly England and Wales (Source: gov.uk).
What is the cost of hiring a solicitor or a barrister?
According to the bidvine.com price guideline, the average cost of a hiring lawyer in the UK ranges between £120 and £450 an hour. The difference in fees can depend on the solicitor or barrister’s level of experience, location, and area of expertise.
The length of time during which you use a solicitor or barrister’s services also influences the fee you end up paying. Most lawyers charge an hourly rate, which means that the more time they spend working on your case, the more costly their fee will be.
For barristers, in particular, the level of experience plays an important role in determining their price range. According to Outer Temple Chambers, barristers’ fees range as follows:
- £75 - £125/hour + VAT for under 5 years of experience
- £175 - £275/hour + VAT for 5-10 years of experience
- £150- £450/hour + VAT for 10-15 years of experience
- £200 - £500/hour + VAT for over 15 years of experience
- Starting at £350/hour + VAT for Queen’s Counsel (a senior barrister).
Can I get help paying for my solicitor or barrister?
As you can see, hiring a legal professional is a costly endeavour. In the UK, there is a system in place to help you pay your legal fees called legal aid.
There are three general things to take into account when you’re considering legal aid. You need to:
- Check if your case is eligible
- Prove that your issue is serious enough
- Prove that you cannot afford to pay the legal fees.
Although the second point may seem arbitrary, there are specific criteria that indicate whether a case is “serious enough” to qualify for legal aid. The most common cases are the risk of homelessness, risk of physical harm in an abusive situation, discrimination, human rights violations, or being accused of a crime and facing detention or prison.
Eligibility will depend on your specific case and your financial situation. To provide information about your current financial situation, you’ll need to give evidence of your income, benefits, savings, and property. If you have a partner, you’ll have to include theirs too.
In addition to this, you will of course need to provide evidence of your case (e.g. evidence of abuse in the form of a letter from your general physician, previous restraining orders against your abuser, etc.). This will contribute to the decision-making process as to whether or not you will receive legal aid. Keep in mind that legal aid may only cover partial costs, which means you will either have to pay part of the cost upfront or pay back part of the sum if you end up winning money from your case.
Where do I start looking for my lawyer?
Finding your future solicitor or barrister in the UK might be the easiest step of the entire process. There are several official databases available for you to make your search according to location and needs. For a solicitor, consider visiting:
- The Law Society if you live in England or Wales
- The Law Society of Scotland
- The Law Society of Northern Ireland
For a barrister, consider visiting:
- The Bar Council if you live in England or Wales
- The Faculty of Advocates if you live in Scotland
- The Bar of Northern Ireland
There is also a much easier and quicker way for you to find a legal professional near you, wherever you are across the UK, all in one place. Head over to welinklegal.co.uk and filter your search by location and area of practice to find your solicitor or barrister in one click.