The Difference between Chartered Legal Executives, Solicitors and Barristers
Not all lawyers are solicitors or barristers. Fully qualified and experienced Chartered Legal Executive lawyers are able to undertake many of the legal activities that solicitors do.
The role of a solicitor
Solicitors give advice and assistance on matters of law. Specifically, they are the first point of contact for people and bodies (members of the public, companies and charities) seeking skilled legal advice and representation. Most solicitors work together in private practice, while others work in central and local government, or in-house in a commercial or industrial organisation.
The role of a barrister
Barristers offer advice on legal issues and are on the front line, representing clients in court. They receive their information and instructions through a client's solicitor. When not appearing in court, they work in chambers where they prepare their court cases and arguments.
The role of a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer
As a general rule, a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer is able to undertake all work that may be undertaken by a solicitor under the supervision of a principal. So you are essentially doing the same work though Chartered Legal Executives tend to specialise in one area of law, unlike their solicitor partners who may have trained and practiced across several areas.
Chartered Legal Executive lawyers must adhere to a code of conduct and, like solicitors, are required to continue training throughout their careers in order to keep themselves abreast of the latest developments in the law.
So you want to be your own boss?
Typically, lawyers interested in self-employment have followed the route to become a barrister and those who wanted to work in partnership have become solicitors, though Chartered Legal Executives can now become partners too.
Chartered Legal Executive lawyers do not yet have independent practice rights (needed to set up their own firms) but that is set to change. With the introduction of Alternative Business Structures in October 2011, Chartered Legal Executive lawyers will be able to set up their own practices. So yes, you too will be able to ‘be your own boss’!