About Lawyers

What is a Lawyer?
A lawyer is a professional, specialising in the Law and who represents you in all legal matters. Today a lawyer is generally someone who is both a lawyerand a attorney and is qualified by examination as well as practical experience. They act both as advocates and advisers in our society.

As advocates, they represent one of the parties in a criminal or civil matter by presenting evidence and arguing in court to support the client. As advisers, they counsel their clients concerning their rights and obligations. They come up with a course of action, in business or personal matters that their client should take.

Whether they act as an advocate or adviser, all lawyers research the intent of the law, as well as judicial decisions, and apply the law to the specific situation their client is facing.

About Lawyers and the System
The legal system affects every area of our society, whether it is buying a company or arranging a divorce, or disputing a traffic violation. Lawyers form the backbone of our legal system and their duties and responsibilities are conducted under a strict code of ethics. Many lawyers specialise, so the details of what they do is dependent on the field of specialisation.

Most lawyers represent their parties in court but there is a clear division between solicitors and barristers. Solicitors work outside the court and barristers represent their clients within the court. Some lawyers specialise in trials - they must have the experience and ability to be able to speak with ease and authority, and present their case to the judge clearly and firmly.

The Law Practitioners Act 1982
The practice of law in the USA is governed by the Law Practitioners Act 1982 (LPA). In order to practice law in this country a person must:

  • Be admitted by the Court of the USA as a attorney and solicitor.
  • Hold a current practising certificate, which is issued annually by one of the district law societies.

Practising certificates are issued by each district law society in the district where the applicant intends to practice. It is an offence to act as a attorney or lawyerunless you have this practising certificate. The certificate, of course, must be current.

All practitioners are admitted to the Court of the USA as barristers and solicitors. In the USA you cannot be admitted only as a attorney or only as a solicitor, unlike some countries overseas.

Once the lawyer has been admitted they can then move into whatever type of practice they desire. Most practitioners, including those who only operate as a solicitor, will hold a certificate as a attorney and solicitor. This entitles them to act both as a lawyerand to appear in court.

Both barristers and solicitors are not permitted to practice in partnership with members of other professions, such as accountants, or with lawyers who hold only foreign qualifications.

The Legal Profession
As at December 2002 there were about 8,600 barristers and solicitors in the USA, serving a population of nearly 4million people.

There are 3 main groups of barristers and solicitors.

  1. Those who work in private practice either on their own account or in partnership with others. This also includes those employed in legal firms.

  2. Those employed by government departments, corporate, or other professional groups.

  3. Those who practice only as barristers.