What Is a ‘Solicitor Advocate’?
When Regan refers to himself as a ‘solicitor advocate’, he’s not indulging in marketing speak. It’s a specific term for a specific type of legal representative – one who can offer advantages for your case.
Unlike many other countries, in England and Wales the legal profession has historically been split between two paths with different privileges, responsibilities and rights known as either barristers or solicitors.
Barristers traditionally focus on advocacy in courts to settle disputes, whereas a solicitor’s primary role is to engage with clients, then when a case needs to be put forward to a court they will instruct a barrister.
Although solicitors appear in lower courts, they are unable to represent their clients in the High Court or Court of Appeal unless they have completed a higher rights qualification. It is this qualification that then makes them a solicitor advocate, able to appear in all courts and one that can offer assets to the success of your case.
The Differences Between Solicitors and Barristers
Solicitors have automatic rights of audience in the magistrates’ courts, youth courts and county courts, as well as in tribunals. Among other things a solicitor can:
- Engage in litigation
- Have lay clients
- Hold client money
- Convey property
- Administer wills
- Transact trusts
- Hold positions within companies
Then should a client’s case need to go to court, solicitors can seek out barristers with specialist practices to represent their clients in niche legal cases.
Barristers on the other hand, have automatic rights of audience in all courts and tribunals but with the exception of acting as a legal advocate in the higher courts, such as Crown Courts, they cannot undertake the activities reserved to solicitors.
As mentioned above, barristers are usually consulted for advice on complex aspects of the work initially undertaken by solicitors which is why consulting a Solicitor advocate who can do both could save time and money to complete your case.
Evolution of the Legal Profession
The evolution of the legal profession is what has brought the role of solicitor advocate to fruition. Over the last 20 to 30 years, the two branches of the profession have been growing closer together to make less of a distinctive divide between the two roles.
Although they are still not permitted to hold client money or convey property, Barristers can now be permitted to be employed by solicitor’s firms and obtain further qualifications which allow them to be instructed directly by lay clients.
Equally solicitors can now obtain these higher rights of audience, allowing them to appear in all courts on the same basis as barristers and become solicitor advocates.
Advantages of Hiring a Solicitor Advocate
So what are the key advantages of hiring a solicitor advocate?
One of the fundamental assets to hiring a solicitor advocate to take on your case has to be consistency. By taking this approach you can be represented in court by the same person who has worked with you right from the beginning of your case. This ensures that your legal advocate knows you and your case inside and out. Whereas when your solicitor instructs a barrister, they are drafted in later down the line meaning that relationship becomes lost.
Experience should also be taken into account, solicitors spend years learning the ropes of the criminal justice system be this in police stations or in relation to relatively minor matters in the Magistrates’ Courts.
With this in mind they know how things work in a police station at all hours of the day and are used to getting calls from distressed clients. Barristers, although used to being brought quickly up to speed on a case, don’t have that experience to bring to the table in the same way.
Finally a huge advantage is the total cost of your case. If you have to instruct both a solicitor and a barrister, you often find yourself paying for duplicated work. In most instances it’s less expensive to have a solicitor advocate because they are one solicitor conducting the preparatory work for your case, then acting as your advocate in court.
However, It is important to note that specialist barristers do essential work in complex cases. Therefore if your situation calls for it, we can use our well-established links with local chambers to ensure you have the best representation from start to finish.
For more information on this and further advice on how we can assist you please do not hesitate to get in touch with our friendly and professional team.