Solicitors, Lawyers and Barristers FAQs

When enlisting the services of a legal adviser, it can be confusing who to approach – especially when the terms lawyers, barristers and solicitors seemingly mean different things.  

The following are some commonly asked questions regarding the differences between Solicitors, Lawyers and Barristers.  


Q:   What is the difference between Solicitors and Lawyers?
A:   Nothing.  A solicitor is a lawyer. A solicitor is also referred to as a barrister and solicitor.

Q:  What is a Barrister?
A:  A Barrister is a lawyer that restricts his or her practice to the court room; a litigation specialist.

Q:  What qualifications do Lawyers hold?
A:   In New Zealand, the minimum qualification is Bachelor of Laws, or LL.B. In addition, Lawyers must hold a current practising certificate issued by the NZ Law Society.

Q:   What is a staff solicitor?
A:   A staff solicitor is a solicitor employed by a firm, rather than being a partner or director of that firm.

Q:   What is a consultant at a law firm?
A:   Usually a consultant is a former partner, who has retired from the partnership but is still employed by the firm – often in a part time capacity.

Q:   Why do some firms in New Zealand have partners, and others have directors?
A:   In NZ, some law firms have become incorporated companies. The former partners are now shareholders and directors.

Q:   What is a Queen’s Counsel?
A:   Queen’s Counsel is a status, conferred by the Crown, that is recognised by courts. Members have the privilege of sitting within the Bar of court. As members wear silk gowns of a particular design, the award of Queen’s Counsel is known informally as taking silk, and hence QCs are often colloquially called silks.
Appointments are made from within the legal profession on the basis of merit rather than a particular level of experience. However, successful applicants tend to be barristers,  or solicitor advocates with 15 years of experience or more

If you have any other questions regarding the FAQs outlined above, or our areas of expertise, please contact our team of Hawkes Bay based corporate and commercial lawyers, trust lawyers, litigation lawyers, property lawyers and resource management lawyers.