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The Difference between a Lawyer and a Solicitor

KLM Solicitors

We hear these words all the time – solicitor, lawyer, attorney, barrister – but what are the differences between these legal professions, and which one do you need for family, criminal, or domestic violence matters?

What is a Solicitor?

If you need legal advice, a solicitor is the first person to see. We handle everyday legal matters, while supporting, guiding and advising you throughout the process.

A lot of the work we do takes place outside the courtroom, such as preparing legal documents like wills, contracts and agreements. 

When a matter does go to court, we will communicate with you and prepare the necessary documents, then appear on your behalf in court for minor appearances.  


In Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the term ‘lawyer’ is often used instead of solicitor.  Lawyers can give legal advice and represent clients in legal matters.


Barristers are lawyers with special knowledge and experience in complex legal disputes. Usually they will have spent some time working as a solicitor before ‘going to the bar’. After joining the Bar (i.e. becoming a barrister), much of their work takes place in court, representing clients and attending courtroom meetings like trials or hearings. They’re usually engaged by and deal directly with solicitors, rather than clients.


The term ‘attorney’ is not commonly used in Australia, but may refer to trademark or patent attorneys. Trademark attorneys use their knowledge of trademarks law and practice to protect the intellectual property of their clients.

In the United States, ‘attorney’ is a general term for a lawyer who has passed a bar examination and can practice law in a particular jurisdiction. 

Which type of legal professional do you need?

When it comes to legal advice, your first port of call is to make an appointment with a solicitor. For family law or criminal law, consider looking for a lawyer who specialises in these areas, as these are complicated fields to navigate. 

Family and Domestic Violence Matters

Family law covers things like divorce and separation, child custody, property and financial settlements and protection orders against domestic violence. 

Your lawyer will assist and support you, giving you the right professional advice and making sure that your interests are protected. 

Criminal Law

If you’re charged with an offence, you will need legal advice. A criminal lawyer will explain what your offence means, give you information and advice and help you decide if you should plead guilty or not guilty. They will help you on your court date and represent you in court.  

What’s the Difference between a Lawyer and a Solicitor?

So back to our original question: what’s the difference between a lawyer and a solicitor here in Australia? There really isn’t one – they are different names for the same type of legal professional.

When life doesn’t go to plan, we’re here to help you bounce back. Contact the team at KLM Solicitors on 3733 0901 today for friendly, professional advice about family, domestic violence or criminal law matters.

We fight tirelessly to protect your rights.

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Help you understand and move forward.

We understand how overwhelming and stressful the legal process can seem. Let us take the pressure off you by providing reliable advice and guiding you every step of the way.

We understand how overwhelming and stressful the legal process can seem. Let us take the pressure off you by providing reliable advice and guiding you every step of the way.

From our
valued clients

From our valued clients