A person may refer to themselves as a lawyer if they have completed legal education, obtained practical legal training, and been “admitted” to their state’s or territory’s supreme court. Lawyers can practise as barristers or solicitors. You might require a solicitor, a barrister, or both, depending on the nature of your legal issue

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To practise law, a solicitor just needs to be “admitted” to the state’s or territory’s Supreme Court.
You can employ a lawyer to work on your behalf if you have a legal issue or concern. This is referred to as “retaining” or “instructing” a lawyer. You become the attorney’s client, and the attorney is in charge of handling your case on a daily basis.

A solicitor can:

  • research the law
  • give you legal advice
  • draft letters, emails, and faxes
  • make telephone calls on your behalf
  • prepare documents, for example, court forms, wills and contracts
  • negotiate with the other person or people involved
  • represent you in courts and tribunals.

Solicitors can work in different arrangements:

  • a private law firm, which can be any size from very large (with hundreds of lawyers) or very small (with a few lawyers)
  • a sole practice, where the lawyer works alone for themselves
  • the government or the community sector, for example in Community Legal Centres or Legal Aid NSW. 


Lawyers who have been “admitted” to the Supreme Court of the state in which they wish to practise law are known as barristers. They also need a practising certificate from the NSW Bar Association to practise law in NSW.
In addition to being professionals at defending clients in court, barristers can offer a specialised opinion on a particular area of the law. They frequently practise alone or alongside other barristers in settings known as “chambers.”

If you are going to court and have a complicated legal issue, your solicitor will let you know if they believe you require a barrister. Typically, the solicitor will locate the attorney and give them instructions. The lawyer will then represent you in conjunction with the solicitor. You might be able to hire a barrister yourself if you do not have a solicitor.
When you hire a lawyer and a barrister, the lawyer will prepare your case for court and the barrister will present your case during the hearing. This entails arguing your case in court, presenting evidence, selecting the witnesses to call, deciding what inquiries to direct them to answer, and cross-examining the witnesses of the opposing party.

Areas of law

Lawyers can specialise in one particular sort of law, work in a single area of law, or operate in a variety of legal fields.
‘Generalist lawyers’ are lawyers who practise in a variety of legal fields. They either operate as lone practitioners for themselves or are employed by general practise legal firms.
Lawyers with a particular field of expertise are frequently referred to as “specialist lawyers.” A specialised lawyer, for instance, might operate in

  • property law
  • criminal law
  • family law
  • personal injury law.

Depending on their field of competence, specialist lawyers may work for a general practice or a business that solely provides legal advice in one specific area of the law (a firm that has a number of lawyers with expertise in different areas of the law).

A specialist lawyer who has completed the Law Society of NSW Specialist Accreditation Scheme and has a significant amount of expertise in a particular area of law is referred to as a “Accredited Specialist.”

Your legal challenge may determine whether you hire a generalist or a specialist attorney.