What’s the difference between barristers and solicitors?

Traditionally barristers have represented clients in court and solicitors performed the preparatory work. In recent years the rules have changed and barristers can now do much more of the preparatory work, and advise individuals without the involvement of a solicitor.

Can I employ a barrister without a solicitor?

Yes, members of the public can now instruct a barrister directly without a solicitor.

Does a barrister only conduct court hearings?

No, given rule changes in recent years, barristers can now advise people and prepare documents for them – for example, witness statements and application forms and help them write letters, as well as representing them in court hearings.

How we differ from the usual solicitor-barrister relationship?

You are going direct to expert barristers rather than through a general family law solicitor. You will ask us to do a piece of work for you and we will agree a fixed fee. We will only charge you that fee. If you want us to do another piece of work for you, we will then agree another fee etc.

You therefore decide how much or how little work we do for you. If you instruct a solicitor, they will give you a cost estimate at the start of their work over which you have no say. They can increase their cost estimate over time, and you hand everything over to them with little control.

Using the traditional model, solicitors undertake a lot of administration work rather than legal work. By using our service, you are not paying a solicitor to do the administration work. You will be able to handle that yourself and will ask us to do the legal work, as and when you want or need it.

Do I need a solicitor?

Generally speaking, no, as you can come direct to us. If, however, we believe it is in your best interests to instruct a solicitor, then we will tell you.

What are the benefits of employing a barrister direct?

You will be receiving legal advice direct from experts in this field. A solicitor will usually be a general family solicitor. Therefore, with us you will be focusing your money on the legal rather than administrative aspects of your problem.

Is a solicitor an expert in this field?

Not necessarily, as they are very likely to be a general family lawyer. We are the only practice nationwide solely specialising in this field of law.

How do you charge for your work?

You, the client, will ask us to undertake a piece of work for you, for example – advising you during a meeting, representing you at a hearing, preparing a witness statement or preparing a kitchen table agreement etc. We will then agree a fixed fee with you. The fee will be paid in advance of us undertaking the work. We will then complete the work as agreed.

What will I have to do myself?

You will need to administer your matter e.g. send documents to the court office if there are court proceedings, write to the other side (although we can help you prepare the letter) and sort out the paperwork. In short, anything not requiring our legal expertise will need to be handled by yourself.

Do I need one solicitor dealing with both the children issues and the finances arising from my divorce/separation?

Generally speaking, no you don’t. Usually because the care of the children has an impact on the division of the money, the arrangements for the care of the children are sorted out first and then the money is dealt with. Any solicitor, or barrister, acting for you in the money side of your separation would just need to know the arrangements for the children and have a copy of any court orders.

What are kitchen table agreements?

The majority of parents agree, without court proceedings, the arrangements for the care of their children. Most have what we call a ‘kitchen table agreement’ where they agree between themselves a pattern of care during term time and school holidays. Most parents take some legal advice before reaching an agreement with the other parent. We are able to help you with a kitchen table agreement – we can, during a meeting, advise you on what is and isn’t reasonable or fair.

What is a barristers’ chambers?

A barristers’ chambers is a group of self employed barristers who collect together to share their administration.