Legal terminology can be complex and confusing, which is even true of the various professions within law. Barristers, solicitors, advocates and lawyers each perform a different role and during the 1990s the role of solicitor advocate was added to the list.
This article will take a closer look at the difference between a solicitor and a solicitor advocate. One of the first Solicitor Advocates to appear in the High Court was Colin Nasir, who continues to practice in this role.
To understand the role of the Solicitor Advocate, it is important to understand first the solicitor’s job, and second that of the advocate.
Solicitors work directly with clients in many fields, including family law, probate, wills, property law, personal injury claims and some elements of criminal law. Solicitors are not authorised to appear in the highest courts and their goal is typically to get their client to reach an agreement outside of court. Should the case not be settled outside of court, the solicitor would have to work alongside a barrister or an advocate so that it can be brought to court.
The role of the advocate is similar to that of the barrister, in that both roles focus on working in court and both advocates and barristers can appear in the UK’s highest courts. An advocate is normally asked to join a case by a solicitor who has a client that requires representation in court, rather than working directly with a client.
As a relatively new role that was created in the early 1990s, the solicitor advocate profession has become an important part of legal practice. The role combines the two professions, which sees the solicitor receive additional education and training while taking extra assessments in order to qualify as a solicitor advocate. Solicitor advocates can appear in the highest courts and the role is thought to have brought many advantages to clients.
Used in publicly funded cases by the Crown Court, solicitor advocates are increasingly being used in court thanks to their wide knowledge of the law. The solicitor advocate can save time and money on a case, as they do not have to defer to a barrister should the case become more complex. The solicitor aspect of the solicitor advocate role is useful to those who have a strong relationship with their solicitor; should the need arise, this solicitor can represent a case in court.