Skip to Main Content

United Kingdom Law: Legal Profession

The legal profession

The legal profession in England and Wales is split up into two main categories to reflect the two broadly different roles within the legal system. 

Barristers are members of the Bar Council of England and Wales and have rights of audience in court.  They are governed by the Bar Standards Board.  Every barrister also has to be a member of an Inn of Court.  The four Inns are Inner Temple, Lincoln's Inn, Middle Temple and Grays Inn.  Barristers are generally classed as being self employed in that they operate in sets of  'chambers' but are not employed by a law firm as such. There is a Bar Directory which lists all known barristers by name and you can also search for sets of chambers.

Solicitors are members of the Law Society .  The regulation of solicitors is done by an independent body called the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA).  There are also textbooks on the conduct of solicitors below.  Solicitors do not generally have rights of audience in court but there are some exceptions, they generally do the legal research and can represent their clients in legal negotiations but then pass the case over to a barrister if it is necessary to take action in court.  It is rare that a client will directly employ a barrister.

Legal Aid & Citizens' Advice

The Legal Aid Agency provide criminal and civil legal aid and advice in the UK.  More information can be found on their website which is below.