10 Differences Between advocate and barrister

Difference Between Advocate and Barrister

Introduction: Understanding the legal profession can be a complex task, especially when it comes to differentiating between an advocate and a barrister. Both professions play significant roles in the legal system, but they have distinct responsibilities and areas of expertise. In this article, we will delve into the definitions, examples, and uses of both advocates and barristers, followed by a comprehensive table highlighting the key differences between the two.

What is an Advocate?

An advocate is a legal professional who represents clients in a court of law, providing legal advice, and arguing cases on behalf of their clients. They specialize in both civil and criminal litigation.

Examples of Advocates:

  • John is an advocate who specializes in family law. He assists clients in legal matters such as divorce, child custody, and adoption.
  • Sarah is an advocate who focuses on criminal law. She defends individuals charged with various offenses, ensuring their rights are protected.

Uses of Advocates:

  • Advocates act as legal representatives for their clients, providing guidance and support throughout the legal process.
  • They conduct legal research, prepare legal documents, and argue cases in court.
  • Advocates often negotiate settlements on behalf of their clients to avoid lengthy court proceedings and achieve favorable outcomes.

What is a Barrister?

A barrister is also a legal professional who specializes in courtroom advocacy, providing expert legal opinion and representing clients in higher courts. They are usually called upon by solicitors.

Examples of Barristers:

  • Michael is a barrister specializing in corporate law. He provides legal advice and represents clients in high-profile commercial disputes.
  • Emma is a barrister with expertise in intellectual property law. She represents clients in patent infringement cases and trademark disputes.

Uses of Barristers:

  • Barristers play a crucial role in advising solicitors and clients on complex legal matters.
  • They attend trials and hearings, presenting legal arguments and cross-examining witnesses.
  • Barristers provide specialized expertise in specific areas of law and often deal with more complex and high-value cases.

Differences Between Advocate and Barrister:

Difference Area Advocate Barrister
Training and Qualification Advocates undergo training through law schools and pass the Bar Council examination to practice law. Barristers complete a law degree, then receive specialized training through an apprenticeship known as “pupillage” in a barristers’ chambers.
Client Interaction Advocates have more direct interaction with clients, providing guidance, advice, and representing them in court. Barristers primarily interact with solicitors, who act as intermediaries between the barrister and the client.
Courtroom Advocacy Advocates are authorized to appear in lower courts, such as magistrate and district courts. Barristers have rights of audience in higher courts, including the Crown Court, appellate courts, and the Supreme Court.
Legal Opinion Advocates provide legal opinions directly to their clients, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of their case. Barristers are often consulted by solicitors to provide expert legal opinions.
Legal Representation Advocates represent clients in both criminal and civil cases. Barristers mainly deal with civil cases, but they can also represent clients in criminal matters.
Mode of Operation Advocates generally operate in private practice or work for law firms. Barristers are typically self-employed and work in independent barristers’ chambers.
Role in Civil Proceedings Advocates have a more significant role in the initial stages of civil proceedings, including issuing court proceedings and gathering evidence. Barristers are mainly involved in representing clients during the trial and appeals stages of civil proceedings.
Legal Costs Advocates usually charge clients directly for their legal services. Barristers’ fees are usually paid by solicitors, who then bill the client.
Professional Etiquette Advocates can directly approach witnesses during cross-examination. Barristers are expected to approach witnesses through their solicitors.
Geographical Differences The term “advocate” is commonly used in countries with a legal system based on the British approach, such as India, Scotland, and South Africa. The term “barrister” is predominantly used in England, Wales, and some other countries following the British legal system.


In summary, advocates and barristers both possess legal expertise and play vital roles within the legal system. Advocates have a more direct relationship with clients, representing them in court and providing overall legal assistance, while barristers primarily focus on specialized courtroom advocacy and providing expert legal opinions to solicitors. The training, client interaction, court jurisdiction, and modes of operation are among the significant differences between the two professions.

People Also Ask:

Q: What is the main difference between an advocate and a barrister?

A: The key difference lies in their roles and interactions. Advocates directly represent clients, offer legal advice, and argue cases, while barristers mainly provide legal opinion, specializing in courtroom advocacy, and work through solicitors.

Q: Can a barrister also be an advocate?

A: Yes, barristers can also be advocates, as many barristers possess rights of audience in lower courts. However, advocates typically have a broader scope, representing clients in both criminal and civil cases.

Q: Are advocates and barristers paid differently?

A: Yes, there is often a difference in how they are remunerated. Advocates usually charge clients directly for their services, while barristers’ fees are usually paid by solicitors who then bill the client.

Q: Can you switch between being an advocate and a barrister?

A: In some legal systems, such as India, it is possible for an individual to practice as both an advocate and a barrister, provided they meet the necessary qualifications and regulatory requirements.

Q: Are advocates and barristers found in every legal system?

A: No, the terminology and specific roles might differ across legal systems. Advocates are commonly found in countries like India, Scotland, and South Africa, while barristers are predominantly present in countries following the British legal system, such as England and Wales.

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