State/Territory Specific Information

Lawyers provide advice, write documents and conduct negotiations on legal matters, and may represent clients in court and tribunal proceedings.

They are described as solicitors or barristers, depending on the work they do.



A barrister provides legal advice and drafts documents in complex matters. They conduct negotiations and appear in courts and tribunal hearings on behalf of clients. Generally, the barrister is briefed by a solicitor, who instructs the barrister on behalf of a company or private person when a case requires specialist expertise or advocacy skills. A barrister may also undertake research and consult with clients and witnesses. Barristers wear wigs and gowns in some courts, while solicitors do not. It is common to practise as a solicitor for a few years before becoming a barrister.


A judge presides over civil and criminal proceedings in courts of law, making sure that trials are run fairly, according to the rules of law and evidence.


A magistrate hears criminal matters to determine whether defendants will be committed for trial, and judges criminal offences without a jury.


A solicitor may specialise in areas such as property, probate, workers' compensation, family law, personal injuries litigation, commercial law or criminal law.

The distinction between solicitors and barristers varies from state to state. In NSW, Victoria and Queensland, lawyers practise as either a solicitor or a barrister. In the ACT, the NT, SA, Tasmania and WA, the work of barristers and solicitors is usually combined, with many lawyers describing themselves as a 'barrister and solicitor'.

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