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glossary

A few non-technical explanations for those who find the arcane language of the English legal system a bit bizarre.

Barrister

Lawyer qualified as an advocate and 'called to the Bar', who practises in the higher courts, usually wearing wig and gown

Brief

When it's a verb this means to instruct a barrister; when it's a noun, the instructions, which are typed on thick white or cream-coloured paper, folded into a rectangle with the parties' names showing on the front, and tied with pink tape

Chambers

Collection of rooms where barristers (who are self-employed) work, preparing their cases and having cons with their clients, but also the
group of barristers who share the same premises

Clerks

Work for barristers, accepting briefs on their behalf from solicitors, collecting their fees, and organising their chambers' administration

Con

Meeting in chambers between a barrister and clients. Short for consultation rather than conference

Counsel

Another word for barrister

Junior

Barrister who has not yet become a QC

Old Bailey

In fact the street, off Ludgate Hill in central London, in which the criminal courts are situated; by custom, the name of the criminal courts

Queen's Counsel

Senior barrister

RCJ

The Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand in central London, where civil cases are heard

Senior junior

Barrister who has not yet become a QC , but who has been working successfully for some years

Silk

Senior barrister, formally known as Queen's Counsel or QC

Solicitor

Lawyer who works behind the scenes and doesn't usually appear in the higher courts, although there are now solicitor-advocates, who do – just to make it all even more confusing. Solicitors brief barristers to act in court. It used not to be possible for a member of the public (or lay client) to brief a barrister without a solicitor, but in some cases it can be done now

Take silk

Become a senior barrister

The Temple

Area of London between the river Thames and The Royal
Courts of Justice where barristers of the Inner and Middle Temple have their chambers. The Temple Church is found here

If there are any other words that need explanations, please email me and I'll do my best to elucidate…

 

 

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© Natasha Cooper 2007