Merging of the Legal Professions

Essay by LoucasUniversity, Bachelor'sC, April 2004

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The English legal profession is atypical of the majority of the rest of the world due the fact that is divided. Unlike countries such as the USA where they have just one lawyer known as an 'advocate´, in England we have two different types, each with different roles and responsibilities within the system. The principal distinguishing factor between them is that solicitors primarily do the paperwork whereas the role of barristers is mainly concerned with advocacy. The profession has been separated in such a way ever since the nineteenth century as a result of an agreement with the Bar. Solicitors were given the job of direct client contact and the writing of all legal documents in exchange for barristers to have the exclusive rights of audience in the higher courts and eligibility to become senior judges. In spite of this over recent years there has been a sequence of changes resulting in gradual progression towards the merger of the two legal professions.

The first step towards an attempt at equality for solicitors and barristers came in 1969 when the Law Society argued for rights of audience in the higher courts. However, their plea was essentially unsuccessful as the Beeching Report recommended that this should only be allowed if there were insufficient numbers of barristers, and even then this right could only been permitted by the Lord Chancellor in certain circumstances. As from 1972, due to a Practice Direction from the Lord Chancellor´s Department, if solicitors have appeared on behalf of a client in the magistrate´s court they are entitled to appear in appeals of committals for sentencing from the magistrate´s to the Crown Court. In 1979 a vote took place to decide whether or not there should be absolute coalescence, the idea was rejected unanimously. In addition, rights of...