A legal practitioner (or “lawyer”) is a person duly admitted to practice law in accordance with legal and ethical requirements.
In South Australia, we have a “fused profession”. A lawyer can practice both as a solicitor (who conducts a file, prepares documents, and oversees your case) and a barrister (who renders opinions and appears in Court on your behalf). At Beger & Co all of our lawyers have Court room experience and we will often personally handle matters pre-trial matters at Court without a barrister, but we practice primarily as solicitors.
SA also has an independent bar, where lawyers practice exclusively as barristers. They cannot represent clients directly, only via instructions from a solicitor. They cannot and do not do solicitors work. Barristers are also referred to as “counsel”.
A solicitor can be like a GP who refers you to a specialist. Many barristers specialise in defined areas of law and can be regarded as experts in their field. They appear before the Courts day in, day out and are familiar with the dynamics of the judicial process. Most Justices, Judges and Magistrates are drawn from the independent bar.
In matters that are complicated or hotly contested, we may recommend briefing a barrister to advise on the matter and to appear on your behalf on arguments before the Court and at the trial. This is not to increase fees; rather, it is to delineate between the work that is best done by one or the other. This invariably proves to be an economy that enhances the prospects of success. In our experience it is money well spent.
A Senior Counsel (SC – formerly known as a QC or Queen’s Counsel) is a Barrister of generally recognised special skill, eminence and (usually) seniority. SC should not be confused with ‘Special Counsel’ or similar descriptions. This is an in-house term of art and is used to describe particular lawyers in some legal firms. A ‘Special Counsel’ does not have the recognition that a ‘Senior Counsel’ has.
For further information please contact Peter on 8362 6400 or email Peter Jakobsen. Join our mailing list to receive updates and advice on current issues.