In states where lawyers practise either as barristers

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lawyers (with a few exceptions) practise law as both. In States where lawyers practise either as barristers or solicitors there is approximately one barrister for every 100 solicitors. For a more detailed discussion of the difference between barristers and solicitors see the following extract from L. Griffiths, G. Heilbronn, D. Kovacs, P. Latimer, T. Pagone, R. Tucker, Introducing the Law , CCH, 4th ed., 1993, pp. 315-316: 910 Differences between barristers and solicitors The theoretical difference between a barrister and a solicitor is based upon the function which each performs in the legal system. There is a certain amount of overlapping in functions, but generally speaking the solicitor gives legal advice to clients and prepares legal documents for various purposes while the barrister primarily speaks on behalf of a party when the dispute is being considered by a court, he or she often prepares court documents, and gives opinions on specific and controversial legal questions. Barristers are divided into two categories: (1) Senior Counsel or Queen's Counsel (often called ‘silks’), are eminent and highly experienced barristers. Although this is now changing, previously they could only appear in court with the assistance of a junior barrister. Their fees for appearances are very high. A Queen's Counsel would almost never appear in a minor matter or in the lower courts. The more senior rank or level of barrister is now called a Senior Counsel in New South Wales. This title has only been in use for a few years. Before the name was changed, these senior barristers were known as ‘Queen's Counsel’ or ‘King's Counsel’ depending on whether the monarch was a King or a Queen, at the time the barrister was appointed or ‘made silk’. (2) The bulk of barristers are juniors, not Queen's Counsel. The fees of an ordinary barrister are usually much lower than those of a Queen's Counsel, but when a junior appears with a ‘silk’, the fee paid is generally two-thirds of that charged by the Queen's Counsel. 20
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CO5119:03 Business Law SUBJECT MATERIALS >> SCHOOL OF LAW JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY Solicitors may be in private practice, either in their own firm (eg Able, Smart, Bloggs & Slick) or as employees of such a law firm. Alternatively, solicitors may be employed in the government or industry as legal officers or legal counsel. It is always the solicitor to whom a client will first go for advice. If necessary, the solicitor will then brief a barrister to obtain more specific legal advice or to appear in court. The solicitor can also plead the client's case in court, but barristers are usually retained as they are specialists in presenting cases orally and the solicitor is often too busy with other matters to spend the whole day in court. A very important recent reform development in Queensland and South Australia, which is also being discussed in New South Wales and Victoria, is that barristers may be briefed directly by other professionals such as accountants, architects, engineers and town planners. This breaks the solicitors' monopoly on briefing barristers.
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