The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Solicitor v barrister

This table illustrates some of the differences between the two branches of the profession, including as they relate to demographics, working environments, career progression and salary.

Solicitors As of June 2020, there were 149,621 practising solicitors. The total number of solicitors on the roll was 202,265.

Barristers As of 2019, 80% of barristers (ie, 13,434) were self-employed (not including those in dual practice, registered European lawyers or second six pupils). There were a total of 16,982 practising barristers. Around 37% of all practising barristers are women (ie, 6,389 women compared to 10,465 men). Black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals make up 13% of all practising barristers (ie, 2,289). Mostly self-employed, so receive irregular (but often substantial) fees. Work mainly with solicitors and other barristers. Chambers and court-based. Engage more in one-off advocacy (ie, court cases). Aspire to become Queen’s Counsel (QC) (ie, a top barrister, normally instructed in very serious and complex cases). The Bar Standards Board requires that all pupils be paid no less than £18,866 per annum in London and £16,322 outside of London. Many earn much more – upwards of £60,000 in some cases.

Women make up just over 50% of the profession. However, many fewer women than men are currently at partner level – an average split in private practice is 67%male partners compared to 33% female. Black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals make up 21% of all solicitors. Mostly employed in private law firms, so receive regular monthly salary. Work mainly with individuals, companies and barristers. Office-based. Engage more in ongoing advisory and one-to-one client work. Aspire to become partner (ie, part ownership of firm and entitlement to a percentage of its profits). While there is no longer aminimumannual trainee salary, the averageUK salary for a first- year trainee is around £27,500 , whileCity firms pay considerablymore – anywhere from £35,000 upwards.



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