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A generic term for a legal professional who is qualified to practise law.
There are two main types of lawyer in England and Wales:
- A solicitor can give legal advice and explain what a client’s legal options are. They will meet with clients to provide them with advice. They will do this on an ongoing basis throughout court proceedings. Solicitors will advise their clients during regular meetings, but also via telephone and email. A solicitor will help a client deal with letters and paperwork, including court papers. A solicitor will draft documents, such as statements, on behalf of their clients. These will set out their evidence to the court. They may also represent their clients in court. Most people who need a lawyer, including parents involved in care proceedings, should turn first to a solicitor.
- A barrister specialises in court work. They will advocate on behalf of their client and client’s solicitor in court. In more complex cases, a solicitor may hire a barrister to appear in court on behalf of the client. The solicitor, barrister and client may also all meet. These meetings are often referred to as ‘conferences’. They can be helpful to discuss the client’s case, and strategy for a hearing and the overall case.
Lawyers (both solicitors and barristers) tend to specialise in particular areas of the law, for example family law or immigration law.