What’s in a title: Lawyer v Solicitor

by Fanatic Design

As most people are aware the term Lawyer is a generic term used to describe anyone who is a Licensed Legal Practitioner who is qualified in law. Someone who is legally allowed to give advice in their specialist area of law. In layman’s terms, Solicitors and Barristers are both types of Lawyer.

The question is, are we seeing more or less Solicitors? – soliciting work, or as the change seems to be that people are moving away from the ‘S-word’ in favour of being a Lawyer, someone who is conducting Legal work. Therefore, by calling yourself a Property Lawyer you open up the whole scope of property legal work for your firm, as opposed to highlighting you are either a Criminal Solicitor or Criminal Barrister.

Now I recently spoke with a successful Contract Dispute Solicitor and posed the question; is the word Lawyer becoming more en vogue? Do you hear it more or less? The response that I received was:

“I am not sure that the word Lawyer is taking over, although I think it’s fair to say it’s used more.  The overwhelming majority of solicitors firms (commonly referred to as law firms) will use the terms Solicitor, Barrister, Legal Executive, Paralegal etc rather than ‘Lawyer’ which is a generic term and can mean any of the above.

Traditionally, solicitors deal with the clients directly and instruct barristers predominantly for advocacy in the courts (and also for specialist opinions in much the same way as a consultant doctor might be used in medical matters).

Solicitors do not automatically have the same ‘rights of audience’ as barristers, which means there are certain higher courts that I cannot speak in as a solicitor, unless I pass a higher rights of audience exam.”

All very good but this poses the question are we too traditional to change and expand these barriers? Would it be better for the general public to use one straightforward title, knowing that you have a Lawyer dealing with your case or situation?

Though there are technical differences, practically speaking, only a lawyer would know the difference between Lawyer, Solicitor, Barrister, or in the US courts an Attorney or Esquire with the limitations of each.

Quite simply put I am of the opinion that the general public can probably rest easy in a world of synonym, as long as they ensure that the Lawyer handling their case is also a Solicitor or Barrister.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Lawyer v Solicitor. Which do you use and hear being used the most? Do you think we are relaxing into a world of Lawyers?

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