While the term "barrister" is often used interchangeably with "lawyer" or "attorney" in the United States, there remains a specialization (in other English-speaking countries, such as the U.K.) in the function and work of a barrister. In these countries, the barrister is typically the lawyer who presents evidence in a court in front of a judge and/or jury and assists in negotiating settlements and plea bargains.
In countries and jurisdictions where the term "barrister" carries a distinct connotation, they form one general classification of legal representatives, while solicitors comprise the other. Generally, clients will enlist the services of a solicitor, who will then engage a barrister if his/her courtroom services are needed. Thus, most barristers contract their work through the referrals of solicitors, though there are exceptions.
Most barristers tend to work as their own private contractors and make their services available through a system of shared space or chambers through which the referrals to represent clients are garnered. The barrister then takes on one-on-one consultation with the client and advises him/her regarding legal rights, options, and possible outcomes, and then represents that client in court and in all settlement and plea negotiations.
To work as a barrister, an individual should have a post-graduate degree in jurisprudence from an accredited university and have passed all accreditation examinations in the jurisdiction in which he/she will practice. Many barristers network through existing firms and solicitors, though some companies and corporations retain the on-staff services of barristers to represent their companies in legal and civil matters. Barristers typically work in office and courtroom environments during traditional business hours.
- Prepare paperwork for court and appear in court on behalf of clients.
- Accept briefs or cases and research the law.
- Advise solicitors and clients about legal matters.
- Arrange settlement amounts and legal documents at case conclusion.