What is the difference between a Lawyer and a Solicitor?

Lawyers and Solicitors, Queensland Legal, provide quality, trusted, and client focused legal advice and legal services to business, commercial, and the corporate sector.

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The information contained on this page is just general and provided for information purposes only (or even just entertainment!).*

It is not legal advice, it is not provided to be legal advice in any way.

Read it, enjoy it, think about it, but then contact a lawyer to deal with your legal issues so they can address your specific needs and circumstances.

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The Article

What is the difference between a Lawyer and a Solicitor?.

Why do we use different terms at all?

The Australian Legal System is a mix of British and American influences. 

In the United Kingdom, the term lawyer is not used widely at all, and the term solicitor is well known and used to describe a legal advisor that provides general legal advice and services to clients. 

The UK uses the same distinctions between Solicitors and Barristers, and the work done by each is generally the same, as that used in Australia. 

In the United States, the term lawyer or attorney is used to describe legal advisors, and rarely do you come across the term Solicitor (unless lawyers who work for the Government). 

Equally, the US does not use any distinction between a Barrister and Solicitor, and all who practice law are referred to as lawyers, or Attorneys-at-Law.  But, confusingly, every lawyer must undertake a ‘Bar Exam’ to be able to practice law.

It would be remiss of us not to mention the biggest influence on legal terminology on Australia (and the World) …. Hollywood!

As a member of the public we hear the word lawyer and attorney coming from movies and TV shows growing up, so it is hardly surprising that the American terms become commonplace.


What is a lawyer Sunshine Coast Lawyers

A Lawyer or Solicitor

In Australia, the terms Lawyer and Solicitor tend to be used interchangeably by most people, as somebody that provides legal advice. 

There tends to be a preference for one term or another in different States, and even different places within those States. 

In Queensland for instance, we’d suggest that in Brisbane, people are far more likely call their legal advisor a Lawyer.  

Whereas in more rural, remote areas, and even the Sunshine Coast, people are more likely to use the term Solicitor, rather than Lawyer. 

However, from a legal perspective, there is a key difference, which is largely ignored by the Legal Profession.

The legal distinction represents the difference between a person being ‘Admitted’ to practice law, and those who are both Admitted and also ‘Certified’ to practice law.

Only an Admitted and Certified person can legally give legal advice and provide legal services to others, as a qualified and licensed legal advisor.

If you are Admitted only, then you can still call yourself a Lawyer, or Australian Lawyer, but you cannot give legal advice or practice law. 

If you are both Admitted and Certified, then you can call yourself a Solicitor, or more properly, a Legal Practitioner, or Australian Legal Practitioner

As we say, the legal distinction is largely ignored when it comes to marketing, and advertising to the public. 

For instance, Michael Turner is both Admitted and Certified to practice law, and we tend to refer to him as a Lawyer.

Lawyers/Solicitors provide both legal advice, legal services and Court advocacy to clients. 

So how to you check who is a qualified lawyer?

The Queensland Law Society is the regulatory body in Queensland that regulates the certification of lawyers in Queensland. 

Similar regulatory bodies exist for each State and Territory, and each have differing rules about issuing a person with a practicing certificate.  But each have mutual recognition of each other.  So become registered with one State and you can practice Nationally. 

To become a Solicitor (and actually practice law for yourself), you’ll need to undertake a few things first:

1.  Complete your Law Degree (4 years).

2.  Complete legal practice training (3 months).

3. Apply for admission to practice to the Supreme Court of Queensland.

4. Apply for a practising certificate with the QLS (as a supervised solicitor, under the supervision of a Principal).

5. Complete 2 years (Full-Time) of supervised legal practice as a Solicitor. 

6. Register for a Principal Practising Certificate to practice law unsupervised, and on your own.

To find out who is registered, the QLS has a directory for you to search, to check who is qualified.

What is a Barrister?

Barristers are also sometimes referred to as lawyers (which they are), or as Counsel.

In Queensland, a barrister has also undertaken a law degree, legal practical training, admission and registration, but such relates specifically to work as a barrister. 

Most barristers will have spent some time working as a solicitor first, before ‘going to the Bar’, as we say. 

Barristers specialise in court advocacy, including the preparation of pleadings for those court cases, and the preparation of specialist legal opinions, outside of court cases. 

There is also a distinction made between Junior Counsel and Senior Counsel (SC), or Queens Counsel (QC).

That distinction relates to the process of recognition of certain barristers for years of outstanding practice as a barrister, and is known as a barrister taking ‘Silk’.

Barristers are regulated by the Bar Association of Queensland, who also provide a directory of barristers for search. 

WHY CHOOSE Queensland Legal

Find the Right Solicitor For You.

Queensland Legal is headed up by Michael Turner, the Principal Lawyer, and local Sunshine Coast Lawyer, with the assistance of experienced support staff. 

The hope is that we build a trusted relationship of lawyer and client that flourishes over the years, and we keep providing value to your business year on year well into the future.

DISCLAIMER: The content on this page was written at a specific point in time in the past and is provided as general guidance only.  It is not intended to be specific legal advice to any person’s particular circumstances who may be reading it.  We do not recommend you use this article as a replacement for obtaining proper legal advice on your issue and encourage anyone reading this content to obtain legal advice to ensure the above information and guidance remains valid and suits your particular circumstance.  In our experience, there is no ‘one size fits all’ to any legal issue!

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