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.
Historically, the legal profession was divided into two distinct paths with distinct privileges, responsibilities and rights: solicitors and barristers.
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
Solicitors can seek out barristers with specialist practices to represent their clients in niche legal cases.
Barristers have automatic rights of audience in all courts and tribunals. 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 undertaken by solicitors.
Evolution of the Legal Profession
Over the last 20 to 30 years, the two branches of the profession have been growing closer together.
Barristers can obtain further qualifications which allow them to be instructed directly by lay clients, although they are still not permitted to hold client money or convey property. Barristers are also now permitted to be employed by solicitors’ firms.
Solicitors can obtain higher rights of audience, allowing them to appear in all courts on the same basis as barristers. Solicitors who obtain these rights are known as solicitor advocates.
Advantages of a Hiring a Solicitor Advocate
Consistency. You can be represented in court by the same person who has worked with you right from your arrest. This ensures that your legal advocate knows your case – and you – inside and out.
When your solicitor instructs a barrister, that relationship is lost, because barristers are flown in at the last moment.
Experience. Solicitors spend years learning the ropes of the criminal justice system in police stations and in relation to relatively minor matters in the Magistrates’ Courts. We know how things work in a police station at 3 a.m. We’re used to getting calls from desperate clients.
Barristers don’t have that background – after a short ‘pupillage’, they are on the feet in the Crown Court.
Cost. If you have to instruct both a solicitor and a barrister, you often wind up paying for duplicated work. In most instances, it’s less expensive to have one solicitor who can conduct the preparatory work for your case and then act as your advocate in court. When it comes to legal services, a solicitor advocate is about as close as you can get to one-stop shopping.
It’s important to note that specialist barristers do essential work in complex cases. 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. Get in touch to see how we can help today.