Last Updated 19 December 2016
In order to practise as a solicitor or barrister in Queensland, a person must be admitted as a legal practitioner in accordance with a number of professional rules managed by the Legal Practitioners Admissions Board and hold a current practising certificate issued by the Queensland Law Society or the Bar Association for barristers (ss 21, 24 Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld)). Solicitors generally practise in private law firms and undertake a wide range of legal work on behalf of clients. Some solicitors undertake court appearance work, but many prefer to employ a barrister to undertake court work for their clients.
Barristers are self-employed lawyers and mostly represent clients in the courtroom. Barristers also write legal opinions about clients’ cases in order to assist solicitors with the running of client matters. Barristers are usually briefed (engaged) by a solicitor on behalf of a client to undertake court appearances or to provide written opinions about the merits of a case. In some circumstances, clients are able to engage a barrister directly but this is rare. Special practice directions govern this process.
Some lawyers work in government offices such as the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Crown Law office and Legal Aid Queensland, while others work in not-for-profit organisations such as community legal centres. Corporate lawyers are employed by a private company or business to undertake the legal work for that enterprise.
Increasingly, lawyers are specialising in particular areas of practice. The Queensland Law Society offers an accreditation scheme to allow experienced lawyers to become accredited specialists in the areas of family law, personal injury law, succession law, immigration, property, business law, commercial litigation, workplace relations and criminal law.
Most solicitors and barristers will charge fees for representing a client (see Costs Involved in Engaging a Solicitor later in this chapter).