barrister – in England or Northern Ireland, a lawyer who is admitted to plead at the bar and who may argue cases in superior courts; similar function as an American trial lawyer

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n. (15c)

1. English law. In England or Northern Ireland, a lawyer who is admitted to plead at the bar and who may argue cases in superior courts.  *  In many other Commonwealth countries, the legal profession is similarly divided into barristers and solicitors. — aka barra.  Cf. ADVOCATE (2); SOLICITOR (4). — barristerial, adj. [1]

1. A person learned in the law and who is permitted to plead at the bar of the courts in England.
     The nearest American term in counterpart is “trial lawyer,” the most essential difference being that the barrister’s professional work is confined exclusively to the trial of cases, while an American trial lawyer often performs the professional work of ordinary office practice. [2]

1. In England, a lawyer who is permitted to try cases in court.
     Compare solicitor.

2. An informal term for a lawyer in the United States. [3]

Various Types of Barristers:

inner barrister (17c) 1. QUEEN’S COUNSEL.  2. A student member of an Inn of Court.

outer barrister (18c) A barrister called to the bar, but not called to plead from within it, as a Queen’s Counsel or (formerly) serjeant-at-law is permitted to do; a barrister belonging to the outer bar. — aka utter barrister.  See CALL TO THE BAR; OUTER BAR.

paper barrister – A barrister who has little if any experience in court. [1]

    Excerpt from R.E. Megarry’s Lawyer and Litigant in England (1962):

     “The term is used as a convenient description of one who is a barrister but who lacks any experience of practice at the Bar.  For very many years it has been common for those employed in government departments, by local authorities or in other salaried positions to join an Inn, eat their dinners, pass their examinations and then be called to the Bar.  All this can be done in their spare time, without affecting their employment. [4]

vacation barrister (17c) A barrister who, being newly called to the bar, for at least three years must attend inn-of-court functions that are held during the long vacation. See VACATION (3). [1]


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6.

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: R.E. Megarry, Lawyer and Litigant in England 105 (1962).


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