We Are Barristers
What does that mean?
In many other common law countries, the legal profession is split into two main branches - barristers and solicitors. However, in New Zealand we do things a bit differently! Here, when a lawyer qualifies, they are admitted to the bar as both a Barrister and Solicitor. However, once a lawyer has sufficient experience, they can choose to practice on their own as a solicitor (or, technically a “barrister and solicitor”) or as a “barrister sole”.
At Quadrant we are all barristers sole and are independent of one another. Although we share our Chambers (office), we do not work together and we are not a law firm. Our individual practices are completely separate and we have rules and policies in place to make sure our clients’ confidentiality is maintained at all times. It is not uncommon for Barristers in our Chambers to be on opposites sides of a case!
What’s the difference?
Classically, Barristers have specialised in courtroom work and giving expert legal opinions. Solicitors, on the other hand have traditionally worked as office-based lawyers. In family law, barristers and solicitors do pretty much the same thing, but there are differences. For instance:
- Until recently, barristers always had to accept instructions via an instructing solicitor. Historically, this meant that clients could not even contact barristers. This is no longer the case. If a client contacts a barrister directly now, we need to simply make sure you have an instructing solicitor who is prepared to have oversight of the file. We can sort all of that out for you when you come to see us.
- Some of our barristers are authorised to take instructions directly from the public. Again, your barrister will explain this at your first appointment.
- Barristers cannot operate trust accounts or handle client money. We can only accept payment once we have sent you an invoice. Some times we do ask you for a retainer before doing work, but you pay that to your instructing solicitor, into their trust account. Again, we organise and explain all that when we see you.
- Barristers do not do manage trusts, do conveyancing or prepare wills. However, we can arrange this kind of work for you – either through your instructing solicitor or by recommending another firm of solicitors.
For more information about the legal profession in New Zealand, try the Law Society website.