The legal professions.

Barristers and solicitors.

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The legal profession.

  • Our legal system operates with two lawyers, barristers and solicitors and toghether they make the legal profession.
  • In practice barristers and solicitors operate seperatly, with many differences.
  • Each play a seperate role in the legal system.
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Training of Barristers.

To become a Barrister you first need to register as a student member of one of the four Inns of Court. They are all situated near the Royal Court of Justice in London.

  • Gray's Inn,
  • Lincoln's Inn,
  • Inner Temple,
  • Middle Temple.

Every Barrister must belong to one of these Inn's of court.

The Bar students must then obtain a Law degree. The student could study a regular law degree, but they could also choose to study the CPE. The CPE is a one year course, and consists of a study of the six core topics of law. which are:

  • Land, public law, trusts, crime, contracts and tort.

The CPE may look preferable, shorter and cheaper but in order to complete the CPE the student must first have a degree in an alternative subject.

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  • The professional training takes place on a vocational coure of a practical nature.
  • If a student passes the one year course known as the BVC they will be called to the bar.
  • During this year on the BVC the students will practice a number of necessary professional skills.
  • After the BVC the students are called to their Inn of Court to attend a number of dinners, the purose of which is to allow students the opportunity to meet other students and practicing legal professsionals.
  • The course is very practical in nature but there is some theory too.
  • Prior to 1997, only the 4 inns of Court would run the BVC course and consequently only a small number of students could be selected. Many were turned away.
  • The students find it difficult finding a placement in a chambers which is the final step to becoming a barrister.
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  • The students pay £9,000 to study the BVC and feel that they should be guaranteed a place.
  • After they are called to the Bar the students must undergo a year long long work placement in chambers. This is the final tep in becoming a barrister and involves shadowing a qualified barrister.
  • After 6 months pupillage, the trainee is allowed into court to represent clients.
  • During pupilage the trainee recieves a small salary.
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Training of solicitors.

  • The student must obtain a law degree or the CPE.
  • The course that the students must take is known as the legal practice course and lasts a year.
  • The course is very demanding and requires much time and dedication from students in order to successfully pass it.
  • The mut then obtain a training contract with a fully qualified solicitor. This is a two year contract which is similar in nature to the Barrister's pupillage.
  • The solicitors face difficulty obtaining a training contract as there are more students than placement.
  • After passing exams they would then apply to the law society to be admitted.
  • If they wish to practice they must take out an annual practicing certificate issued by the law society.
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The senate of the inns of court and the bar.

It has the authority to make decisions for the entire Bar and its functions include:

  • Regulating the admission of students.
  • The call to the bar.
  • Legal education.
  • Discipinary power over members of the bar.

The bar council.

  • This is a non-statutory board which was established in 1874 it represents all barristers.
  • Financially independant. It has no disciplinary powers .
  • Its present functions are to maintain the standards, honour and independance of the bar.
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The law society.

  • This is a professional body which represents solicitors.
  • Membership of the society is voluntary.
  • The law society has control over its members.
  • The law society looks after the general welfare of solicitors and their public image.
  • It protects the interest of the public generally by maintaining a compensation fund.

Work, rights and duties for barristers.

  • Barristers are thought of as advocates.
  • They have exclusive rights of audience in all the superior courts and are often reffered to as the council.
  • Barristers are self-employed and can take whatever cases they want.
  • After practicing for a number of years the barrister may apply for the lord chancellor.
  • A barristers role varies, they may be a prosecutor in one case and a defendant in another.
  • Barristers contend with paperwork and have a duty to their but their relationship is not contractual.
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Work, Rights and duties for a solicitor.

  • They are legal advisors to members of the public, more solicitors than barristers.
  • Members of the public can call at the solicitors office for advice.
  • Most solicitors specialise in one field.
  • The relationhip between a solicitor and their client is contractual which means that the solicitor can sue for outstanding legal fees.
  • A solicitor is liable to disiplinary proceedingss where conduct fails short of criminal offence enforced by the solicitors disciplinary tribunal.
  • A solicitor is liable as an officer of the court, he owes a duty to the court.
  • A solicitor can be liable in civil proceedings, such as law of contract.
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Arguments against a divided legal profession.

  • means a duplication of effort and therefore increases in costs the access legal assistance and representation.
  • After the solicitor has involved themself in the case, they may hand it over to the barrister. This means that the solicitor spends additional time instructing barrister.
  • The client may have to pay for two legal minds when one would be enough.
  • If the success of the case depends on preparation the result is bound to be better if the lawyer who has prepared the case and has an intimate familiarity with it presents in in court.
  • The client who has trust in his solicitor may realise that in court he may have a barrister they don't know.
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Argument for a divided legal profession.

  • There is no guarantee that the fused system will lead to reduced duplication of effor and therefore low costs.
  • Even with one kind of lawyer there would always be the need for firms who specialise so one lawyer eould still be consulting another specialist lawyer, so advocacy would decline.
  • costs can be saved because the specialist can isolate isues and solve them more quickly.
  • Every client has at their comment the best legal brains and skills in the land since the present structure provides a pool of specialists to whom any solicitor can go for except advice or advocacy in court.
  • the barrister doestn get personaly involved in the case.
  • With a unified system the smaller firms may find themselves in more trouble.
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