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Advocate vs. Barrister: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 24, 2023
An advocate generally refers to a lawyer who pleads cases in court, while a barrister specifically denotes a lawyer in common law jurisdictions who argues cases in higher courts.

Key Differences

Advocates offer legal advice and represent clients in all courts, while barristers mainly represent clients in higher courts in common law countries.
The term advocate is used globally, whereas barrister is specific to certain jurisdictions like the UK, Australia, and Canada.
Advocates undergo legal training suited to varied legal systems, while barristers typically undergo specialized training for advocacy in higher courts.
Advocates may engage in both litigation and advisory roles, while barristers are often specialized in courtroom advocacy and legal opinions.
Advocates often have direct interaction with clients, whereas barristers are usually instructed by solicitors and may have less direct client contact.

Comparison Chart

Role in Court

Represents clients in all levels of court.
Primarily argues cases in higher courts.

Jurisdictional Relevance

Used globally in various legal systems.
Specific to common law jurisdictions.

Training and Qualification

General legal training for diverse legal practices.
Specialized training focused on higher court advocacy.

Scope of Practice

Engages in litigation and legal advice.
Specializes in courtroom advocacy.

Client Interaction

Often interacts directly with clients.
Usually instructed by solicitors, less client contact.

Advocate and Barrister Definitions


Advocate can also mean someone who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.
He was a passionate advocate for environmental conservation.


A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdictions who specializes in higher court appearances.
The barrister’s eloquence in court was well-known.


An advocate is a legal professional who represents clients in a court of law.
The advocate skillfully presented her case in the courtroom.


Barristers often wear a distinct attire, including a wig and gown, in court proceedings.
Dressed in his wig and gown, the barrister addressed the judge.


Advocate may refer to a person who argues for or supports a cause or policy in a public forum.
She became an advocate for human rights after witnessing injustices.


Barristers typically receive their cases and instructions from solicitors rather than directly from clients.
The solicitor briefed the barrister on the complex legal matter.


In a broader sense, an advocate can be anyone who defends, supports, or promotes a particular idea or person.
He was a staunch advocate of free speech.


In the UK and certain other countries, barristers must be members of one of the four Inns of Court.
She was called to the bar at the Middle Temple, one of the prestigious Inns of Court.


In some jurisdictions, an advocate is a lawyer who provides legal counsel and drafts legal documents.
As her advocate, he advised her on the legal aspects of the contract.


Barristers are known for their expertise in advocacy, including trial work and giving legal opinions.
The barrister provided a compelling legal opinion on the case.


To speak, plead, or argue in favor of
Advocate a vegan diet.


A lawyer who is authorized to appear and present cases at any court in a jurisdiction.


Usage Problem To act as an advocate
Advocated for her patients.
Advocated for more stringent crime laws.


A lawyer with the right to speak and argue as an advocate in higher lawcourts.


Counselor at law; a counsel admitted to plead at the bar, and undertake the public trial of causes, as distinguished from an attorney or solicitor. See Attorney.


A British lawyer who speaks in the higher courts of law


Is the term advocate used in the United States?

Yes, but more commonly in the context of supporting a cause, not specifically as a legal professional.

Can an advocate also be a barrister?

Yes, in some jurisdictions, an advocate can also be a barrister, especially in the UK.

Can advocates appear in higher courts?

Yes, advocates can represent clients in all levels of courts, including higher courts.

Can advocates provide legal advice outside court?

Yes, advocates often provide legal advice and draft legal documents in addition to court representation.

Do barristers draft legal documents?

Primarily, barristers focus on courtroom advocacy and providing legal opinions, less on drafting documents.

Do barristers directly communicate with clients?

Typically, barristers have less direct communication with clients and receive instructions from solicitors.

Are barristers' fees higher than those of advocates?

This can vary, but barristers often charge higher fees due to their specialization in higher court advocacy.

Is special attire required for barristers in court?

Yes, in many jurisdictions, barristers wear specific attire like wigs and gowns in court.

Are barristers and solicitors the same?

No, barristers specialize in court advocacy, while solicitors handle general legal affairs and client interactions.

Is the role of a barrister changing in modern legal systems?

Yes, in some jurisdictions, the roles of barristers and solicitors are becoming more overlapping.

Can advocates specialize in specific areas of law?

Yes, advocates can specialize in areas like family, criminal, corporate, or environmental law.

Do barristers need to be part of a law firm?

Barristers often operate independently or as part of chambers, rather than traditional law firms.

What kind of legal cases do advocates handle?

Advocates handle a wide range of cases, from civil to criminal, and in various court levels.

Are barristers required to maintain continuous legal education?

Yes, like other legal professionals, barristers are often required to engage in continuous professional development.

Are the roles of advocates and barristers similar in criminal cases?

Both advocates and barristers represent clients in criminal cases, but their specific roles and functions can differ based on jurisdiction.

What is the training process for becoming an advocate?

The training involves law school, passing a bar exam, and sometimes additional advocacy training.

How does one become a barrister in the UK?

By completing legal education, barrister training, and being called to the bar by one of the Inns of Court.

Can advocates handle non-litigious legal matters?

Yes, advocates can handle various legal matters, including non-litigious work like contract drafting.

Can a barrister become a judge?

Yes, barristers with significant experience often become judges, especially in common law countries.

Do advocates work independently or in firms?

Advocates can work either independently or as part of law firms, depending on the jurisdiction and their practice.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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