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Solicitor vs lawyer: what’s the difference?

When choosing the best solicitor for complex issues like family, divorce and immigration, it can be daunting to wade through all the legal jargon. Two terms that often get conflated are ‘solicitor’ and ‘lawyer’. So, what’s the difference between a lawyer and a solicitor? And with so many specialisms, from family solicitors to custody solicitors, which type of legal professional should you be looking for to support you?


What is a lawyer?

Usually associated with glossy TV dramas, it may surprise you that ‘lawyer’ is a term more commonly used in the US than in the UK. In fact, according to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, “lawyer has no defined meaning in UK law”.

‘Lawyer’ is simply a catch-all term that describes anyone who is a Licenced Legal Practitioner; it does not describe a specific role. Therefore, a solicitor is one of many types of lawyer.


What is a solicitor?

A solicitor is a legal professional who provides legal advice, support and representation across a variety of areas of law. A solicitor’s job is often incredibly varied, and involves liaising with clients and barristers, if they’re involved. They also research legislation and case law to support their clients and draft contracts.

Solicitors cover a wide range of areas of law, and while they have training and experience in all of these areas, some practitioners choose to specialise and focus most of their practice on one.


Types of solicitors


Solicitors who choose to specialise undertake further training to become experts in their field, which may be one of the following.


Immigration solicitors


These professionals help people experiencing immigration or visa issues navigate the UK’s complex immigration system. Their role can encompass helping the client with their visa and/or citizenship applications and making asylum claims.

Immigration solicitors may also help clients to face situations involving human rights issues, or detention and deportation complications.

At New Court Solicitors, our immigration solicitors in Southall can provide support with UK visas and settlement, offer legal advice for European nationals, and advise on appeals and judicial review.


Family solicitors


If you need support in any area of family law, family solicitors are the experts to call. A specialist family law firm will have professionals that specialise further. For instance, matters concerning children and childcare will be handled by children’s solicitors, while divorce solicitors will work with couples going through the divorce process.

Alternatively, you might work with generalist family solicitors who will resolve your matter sympathetically and collaboratively.

Our specialist divorce and family solicitors are experts in financial proceedings, providing legal representation and advice to help our clients secure a fair settlement.

Other specialist solicitor roles:


  • Will Solicitors, professionals who advise and guide clients through the process of creating a will and ensuring their validity. Wills can be very complicated and important documents, so making sure you have a professional to help you through is encouraged.

  • Probate Solicitors, who offer consultation through the process of identifying who has the authority to oversee control of the estate of the deceased.

  • Settlement Agreement Solicitors - before signing a settlement agreement, it is imperative for you to understand exactly what the agreement states. Settlement Solicitors help guide you through the settlement process and what you are about to sign.

  • Pre-nuptial and Post-nuptial Agreements - whether agreeing a contract before or during a marriage, Solicitors can help advise parties to a legally binding agreement of asset division in the case of a divorce.


Trust New Court Solicitors for expert legal guidance


Whether you need support with spousal and family visas, divorce settlements, child custody or any other matter, New Court Solicitors’ specialist immigration and family law solicitors offer legal support and professional representation you can rely on.

We pride ourselves on offering a personal service to the community in Southall and across West London. Get in touch via email for an initial consultation with our committed and experienced solicitors.

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