Relationship breakdown can be a very stressful and trying time. You should feel assured that you have the best support around you. It can be difficult to understand whether that support should come in the form of a solicitor, barrister or both. Shabnam Komayli of Gregg Latchams Limited explains the differences between both roles:
It is your solicitor’s role to take the initial instructions from you, provide legal advice, issue any proceedings, gather evidence, prepare the case and instruct a barrister, also known as “Counsel” (if appropriate).
During the course of your case your solicitor will draft statements, deal with correspondence and negotiations, draft agreements, ensure compliance with court orders so deadlines are met, obtain documents on time and prepare the case for court.
Your solicitor will work to develop a strong relationship with you to better understand your needs, yet still look at your case objectively to obtain a fair outcome.
Some solicitors represent their clients at court; however, many tend to be less-practised advocates. Your solicitor may feel it would be beneficial to your case to instruct a barrister for you.
A barrister can advise you on the merits of your case. However, they are more commonly involved if court proceedings are issued, in which case they will represent you at court.
The qualities of a good barrister include:
- Their ability to keep you focussed on the key issues
- A specialist knowledge of how Judges interpret the law and the decisions that are being made.
- Specialist skill in cross-examination.
Some barristers now accept instructions directly from the public, which is known as “Direct Access”. Although there are limitations to this as barristers:
- are not as accessible and cannot ‘run’ your case e.g. they cannot conduct correspondence with the court or the other side, or negotiate on your behalf before the hearing; and
- quote a fee for each piece of individual work they undertake, whereas a solicitor charges by the hour.
Consequently you will find yourself having to keep track of your case including key dates. Family law cases can be very stressful in their own right so taking on this extra responsibility can be an added unwelcome pressure and stress.
There are number of advantages of using both a barrister and solicitor to run your case:
- it is said that two heads are better than one. It is often a good idea to hire a team with specific strengths that can divide the many tasks involved in preparing for a hearing; and
- the Barrister can therefore focus on the trial and cross-examination preparation, whilst the solicitor prepares the paperwork required by the court such as bundles and statements.
At Gregg Latchams our experienced family team will be happy to talk you through our different packages and what we can offer to best suit your needs.