Career Guide

Who is a Barrister

As matters are rising, the need for lawyers increases every day. However, every barrister is a lawyer but not every lawyer is a barrister. Not every lawyer can be called a barrister because it entails more than just being a graduate with a university law degree. There is a common misconception that a barrister and a lawyer are the same and play the same roles but on the contrary, this is not so.

So who is a barrister and what is the difference between a barrister and a lawyer? Well, you’re about to find that out!




Have you ever been in a courtroom meeting? If you’ve ever been then those people who wear the glorious white wigs and black robes are barristers. They are referred to as barristers and not lawyers because they are particularly client advocates and in charge of preparing issues for trial.

A barrister is a lawyer who has passed the Bar examination and has been deemed fit to become a member of the Bar Association of their distinctive states. Anyone who has not passed this examination which is set up by a council of highly qualified lawyers is prohibited from performing client representation in any court.

Barristers are those types of lawyers who have undergone thorough training in court proceedings and client representation.

So now we’ve answered your question “who is a barrister”, let’s further satisfy your curiosity by digging deep into the differences between a lawyer and a barrister and why every barrister is likely a lawyer but a lawyer is not always a barrister.



The difference between a lawyer and a barrister sorely lies in their jurisdiction. The word “Lawyer” is simply an umbrella term for anyone in the legal profession. There are two types of lawyers; the barristers and the solicitors and they differ in the respective roles they play.

Now you see why a barrister is definitely a lawyer and why we can’t call every lawyer a barrister, right? Because there’s a possibility they’re solicitors and not court advocates (barristers).


Find out more about who solicitors are and what they do here


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While barristers often work in chambers (an enclosed space around the court), lawyers are not restricted to courtrooms only, they work out of the court. The former must work with law firms but the latter can carry out legal transactions without a law firm.

Also, not just any lawyer can appear in a court trial to represent a client, this is solely the function of the men and women in black robes and wigs.

However, a lawyer is allowed to perform legal services and provide advice on regulatory issues, interpreting documents or reports. For example, there are commercial lawyers, family lawyers, property lawyers, criminal lawyers, etc. Lawyers are needed when there is a problem with understanding certain legalities because they know how to apply the law to specific cases.

Lawyers inform their clients about their obligations and rights and direct them through the complexities of the law. For instance, a property lawyer is to guide his client through the rigorous processes of acquiring a property and also gives legal advice.

A lawyer who is yet to pass the licensing tests, or “bar exams” is strictly prohibited from practising the law so can only give lawful guidance to their clients.

Let’s briefly look into the main roles of a barrister and their specific duties.



To fully understand who a barrister is, it is necessary to look into what they really do, so below is a list of duties;

  1. Carrying out absolute legal research into the law
  2. Understanding and interpreting the law to client’s
  3. Drafting out legal documents
  4. Sourcing out for pieces of evidence and proof in the defendant of the client
  5. Examining and interrogation of witnesses
  6. Relating pieces of information to the client and receiving instructions from the solicitor
  7. Client’s representation and advocacy
  8. Presenting legal arguments in the courtroom in favour of the client
  9. Preparing drafts and cases for court



To become as earlier stated, you must have certain qualifications, and must have passed the requirements which include the following:

  • Bachelor of Laws degree
  • Legal license
  • Must pass the Bar entrance examination
  • Knowledge of court practices and judicial system
  • Experience in advocacy in court
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Outstanding communication skills and oral presentation
  • Legal research skills

Lawyers and barristers have a fusion in their roles as members of the legal society but they are not the same. As aforementioned, these two differ by several privileges. However, it is very much possible for a lawyer to become a barrister as long as he meets the standard requirements.

So if you’ve been thinking about going into this profession, I’m sure this article has helped answer the questions on your mind about who a barrister is and the roles they play.

About the author

Nnamdi Nwachukwu

An amazing writer with over 3 years of experience working in the Marketing, Education, and Sports firms.

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