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Types of Legal Professions

Read this classification and say what is almost unique about the English legal professions.


There are about 50.000 solicitors, a number which is rapidly increasing, and they make up by far the largest branch of the legal profession in England and Wales. They are found in every town, where they deal with all the day-to-day work of preparing legal documents for buying and selling houses, making wills, etc. Solicitors also work on court cases for thei clients, prepare cases for barristers to represent in the higher courts, and may represent their client in a Magistrates’ court.


There are about 5.000 barristers who defend or prosecute in the higher courts. Although solicitors and barristers work together on cases, barristers specialize in representing clients in court and the training and career structures for the two types of lawyer are quite separate. In court, barristers wear wigs and gowns in keeping with the extreme formality of the proceedings. The highest level of barristers have the title QC (Queen’s Counsel).


There are a few hundred judges, trained as barristers, who preside in more serious cases. There is no separate training for judges.


A jury consist of twelve people (“jurors”), who are ordinary people chosen at random from the Electoral Register (the list of people who can vote in elections). The jury listen to the evidence given in the court in certain criminal cases and decide whether the defendant is guilty or innocent. If the person is found guilty, the punishment is passed by the presiding judge. Juries are rarely used in civil cases.


There are about 30.000 magistrates (Justices of the Pease or JPs), who judge cases in the lower courts. They are usually unpaid and have no formal legal qualifications, but they are respectable people who are given some training.


Coroners have medical or legal training (or both), and inquire into violent or unnatural deaths.

Clerks of the court

Clerks look after administrative and legal matters in the courtroom.

1. Choose the correct definition for each legal profession mentioned in the text:

a. an officer acting as a judge in the lower courts.

b. a public official with authority to hear and decide cases in a law court.

c. a group of people who swear to give a true decision on issues of in a law court.

d. an official who investigates the cause of any death thought to be violent or unnatural causes.

e. a lawyer who has the right to speak and argue in higher law courts.

f. a lawyer who prepares legal documents, advises clients on legal and speaks for them in lower law courts.

2. Tell your partner about the main types of legal professions in GB. Which one would you choose to work as? Why?


Date: 2015-01-12; view: 1487

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