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Barristers (in England and Wales) are specialists in advocacy and represent individuals or organisations in court. They are independent sources of legal advice and can advise clients on their case. Generally, they are hired by solicitors to represent a case in court and only become involved once advocacy before a court is needed. They plead the case on behalf of the client and the client's solicitor. However, members of the public can go directly to a barrister to ask for advice and representation in court.
Barristers usually specialise in particular areas of law such as criminal law, chancery law (estates and trusts), commercial law, entertainment law, sports law and common law, which includes family, housing and personal injury law.
Most barristers work on a self-employed basis, while others work in government departments or agencies such as the Crown Prosecution Service and the Government Legal Service. An increasing number of employed barristers work in private and public organisations, such as charities.
Self-employed barristers work in offices called chambers, and may have their own office or share one with other barristers.
In Scotland, advocates have a comparable role and have rights of audience in all Scottish courts.
Work activities depend on a range of factors, including the area of practice. However, barristers are generally involved in the following tasks:
The area of a barrister's practice will largely determine the balance and emphasis of these activities. For example:
Employed barristers undertake similar activities for one company or client. At more senior levels, they may also become involved with the development of legal policy and strategy.
Barristers also contribute to the collective running and management of chambers, particularly with respect to the recruitment of pupils and other tenants.
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