Law Blog

Queensland Legal Practitioners, Lawyers, Attorneys, Solicitors and Barristers

Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Legal Profession

There is much confusion surrounding the differences between legal practitioners, lawyers, attorneys, solicitors and barristers in Queensland, Australia.

Here is a summary of each:

The Legal Profession in Queensland

Definition More Information
A lawyer is a person who has been admitted to the Supreme Court of Queensland.
“Attorney” is another way of saying “Lawyer” – commonly used in the USA. It is unusual for an Australian lawyer to be referred to as an attorney.
A lawyer can be registered as an Australian Legal Practitioner to work as a solicitor or barrister, or can work for a government.

Attorney In Queensland, an attorney is usually somebody who can conduct the affairs of another person under an instrument called a Power of Attorney – this is not the same as being a lawyer.
A Legal Practitioner is a lawyer who has obtained a Practicing Certificate from the Queensland Law Society.
Lawyers have usually undertaken many years of legal studies and have passed rigorous character assessment to be admitted as a lawyer of the Supreme Court of Queensland.
Anybody can be an attorney in Queensland, provided they meet the requirements of relevant legislation and are appointed as somebody’s attorney by a valid “Power of Attorney” instrument.
All Legal Practitioners are also lawyers.

Legal Practitioner
It is an offence for a person to say they are a Legal Practitioner if they are not.
A solicitor is a type of Legal Practitioner who meets directly with clients and works for a law firm in private practice.
Only lawyers who hold a Practising Certificate (i.e. Legal Practitioners) can work for a law firm in private practice as a Solicitor or as a barrister in Queensland.
All solicitors are Legal Practitioners, but not all Legal Practitioners are solicitors.

Solicitors, like medical General Practitioners (GPs) are the first port of call for clients requiring legal services. If a client’s matter is complex enough to justify it, a barrister may be retained for their more specialised legal services. Typically, a solicitor consults directly with clients and prepares legal documents such as agreements and court documents.
The conduct of solicitors is largely governed by the Queensland Law Society.
All barristers are Legal Practitioners, but not all Legal Practitioners are barristers.

Barrister A barrister is a type of Legal Practitioner who specialises in the drafting of more complex court documents and advocacy (speaking in court on a client’s behalf). Barristers have usually undertaken further study (such as the Bar Practice Course) in order to join the Queensland Bar Association, which governs the conduct of barristers.

This website contains general information only. This site does not contain any legal advice. If you require legal advice, contact an Australian Legal Practitioner.