Although the role of regular solicitors versus solicitor-advocates and barristers do sometimes overlap, it can sometimes be advisable to be represented by a solicitor-advocate or criminal barrister when your trial date is approaching.
A general solicitor can refer you to the best person to handle your particular case – whether that be a solicitor-advocate or traditional criminal barrister.
Criminal barristers and solicitor-advocates are legal practitioners who have taken the same basic legal training as solicitors, but have continued to specialise in advocacy and representing clients in court.
Barristers work independently, although they may share chambers together for convenience.
Although some barristers work directly with clients, barristers and solicitor-advocates often work with general solicitors, who help prepare briefs and documentation for them, and refer clients who are dealing with particularly complex or serious matters that need specialist help.
Some circumstances where your case may be referred to a criminal barrister include:
If your case is straightforward, you may be represented in court by a general solicitor.
But if you are dealing with a complicated criminal case, there is a good chance you will require the services of a solicitor-advocate or barrister – particularly if your case is set-down for a complex jury trial.
The training that barristers and solicitor-advocates undertake means that, depending on the nature of your case, they may be better placed to represent you in court, and advise you on a more complicated or convoluted criminal matter.
If the criminal charges you are facing are serious, or have serious penalties associated with them, it is highly likely that you will be referred to a criminal barrister as your trial date draws near.
Criminal barristers and solicitor-advocates are specialists in advocacy work for clients which means they may have a better chance of defending more serious cases and ensuring the best possible outcome.
Specialised areas of criminal law
If your criminal matter is in an area of the law that a general solicitor is not particularly knowledgeable about, or if it is very specialised, your general solicitor will probably refer your case to an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist or criminal barrister.
Criminal barristers generally specialise in certain fields of criminal law, and general solicitors will be able to match you up with a person who understands the particular challenges you are facing.
When deciding which criminal barrister or solicitor-advocate to refer your case to, a general solicitor will take a number of factors into consideration, including your budget, the nature of your case and whether it requires a barrister or solicitor-advocate with experience in a particular area of criminal law, and whether you require a senior or a more junior person.
Most general solicitors have working relationships with a number of barristers and solicitor-advocates, which makes it easier for them to collaborate and share information.
If you are unsure about who is best placed to handle your case, the best thing to do is to consult an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist to advise you.
Whatever criminal matter you are dealing with, make sure you get the best possible legal help by finding a criminal lawyer who is experienced and well respected within the NSW legal system.