Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Barrister


Quick Summary of Barrister

a British or Canadian lawyer who speaks in the higher courts of law on behalf of either the defence or prosecution

What is the dictionary definition of Barrister?

Dictionary Definition

legal, chiefly U.K., Irish, Australian, New Zealand A lawyer with the right to speak and argue as an advocate in higher lawcourts.

barrister is a lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions which employ a split profession (as opposed to a fused profession) in relation to legal representation. In split professions, the other type of lawyer is the solicitor. Solicitors have more direct contact with the clients, whereas barristers often only become involved in a case in order to provide any advocacy needed by the client. Barristers are also engaged by solicitors to provide specialist advice on points of law. Barristers are rarely, if ever, instructed by clients directly (although this occurs frequently in tax matters). Instead, the client’s solicitors will instruct a barrister on behalf of the client when appropriate.

The historical difference between the two professions — and the only essential difference in England and Wales today — is that a solicitor is an attorney, which means they stand in the place of their client for legal purposes, and may conduct litigation by making applications to the court, writing letters in litigation to the client’s opponent and so on. A barrister is not an attorney and is forbidden, both by law and by professional rules, from conducting litigation. This difference in function explains many of the practical differences between the two professions.

On the other hand, many countries such as the United States do not observe a distinction between barristers and solicitors. Attorneys are permitted to conduct all aspects of litigation and appear before those courts where they have been admitted to the bar.

n. in the United States a fancy name for a lawyer or attorney. In Great Britain, there is a two-tier bar made up of solicitors, who perform all legal tasks except appearance in court, and barristers, who try cases. Some solicitors will “take the silk” (quaint expression) and become barristers.

Full Definition of Barrister

A barrister is a legal professional with special responsibility for representing clients in court, as opposed to providing general legal advice and services. A barrister may also be engaged by a solicitor to provide expert advice on narrow points of law. Whereas a solicitor is directly consulted by a client on some legal matter, a barrister generally only becomes involved in a case once advocacy before a court is required. At that point, the solicitor will instruct the barrister on behalf of the client regarding the legal issue. The barrister himself is rarely instructed by a client directly, although this can happen in tax cases.

In England and Wales, barristers are bound by a number of important traditions and conventions. Foremost among these is that to be a barrister, one must be ‘called to the Bar’ by one of the four Inns of Court. Barristers are regulated by the Bar Standards Board, a division of the General Council of the Bar. (A Bar collectively describes all members of the barristerial profession within a given jurisdiction.) Unlike solicitors, barristers operate as sole practitioners and are prohibited from forming partnerships. However, barristers normally band together into ‘chambers’ to share clerks (or administrators) and operating expenses. Some chambers are quite large and sophisticated, with an appearance easily mistaken for corporate-style law firms. A small percentage of barristers are employed by such firms, as well as by banks and corporations, in the capacity of in-house legal advisers.

A barrister is eligible to be appointed a circuit judge after 7 years’ service, a stipendiary magistrate after 7 years’ service, a recorder after 10 years’ service, and a High Court judge after 10 years’ service.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Barrister. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd.
March 01, 2024
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Barrister. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: March 01, 2024).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Barrister. Retrieved March 01, 2024
, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Barrister are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 26th April, 2020 | 0 Views.