What are the roles within a Law Firm?

Posted on February 27, 2023
roles in a law firm in Essex

Lawyer, Solicitor, Paralegal; they’re all terms you’ve likely heard of when dealing with a law firm. But do you know the difference between the titles and who you are dealing with?

Traditionally, the legal profession is divided into two main branches, solicitors and barristers.

However, there are a variety of roles that come under the ‘lawyer’ umbrella term.

In this article, we explore the titles within a law firm and what they mean.

What does a Solicitor do?

Solicitors provide advice and assistance on legal issues. They are the first point of contact for people and organisations that are seeking legal advice and representation.

Most Solicitors are employed by law firms, but they are also present in central or local government, within company legal departments, or in an alternative business structure (ABS) – a type of business which provides the same services as a law firm but is funded and controlled by non-lawyers (e.g., the Co-operative Group).

A Solicitor’s job can differ depending on what area of law they work in and whether their work is advisory or involves legal disputes.

All solicitors will involve some or all of the following:

  • Meeting clients, finding out their needs and establishing how to help
  • Researching relevant areas of law and advising clients of their options
  • Drafting letters, contracts, and other legal documents
  • Acting on behalf of clients in negotiations and representing them at tribunals or in court

What does a Barrister do?

Barristers advise on specific legal issues and represent clients in court.

They receive information and instructions through Solicitors and are essentially self-employed.

When Barristers are not appearing in court, they work in chambers where they prepare their court cases and arguments.

Although a Barrister works in many areas of law, the key elements of the job are largely the same.

These include:

  • Advising clients on the law and the strength of their case
  • Holding ‘conferences’ with clients to discuss their case
  • Representing clients in court, including presenting the case and cross-examining witnesses
  • Negotiating settlements with the other side (when a legal dispute is resolved privately outside of court)

Upon being called to the Bar (a legal term where a qualified individual is allowed to argue in court on behalf of another party), a Barrister is known formally as a Junior. They remain a Junior until they are made a King’s Counsel (KC). A KC is a Senior Barrister with extensive experience and is regarded as having outstanding ability.

Most Barristers never become KC.

What are Chartered Legal Executives and Paralegals?

Chartered Legal Executives and Paralegals are also legal professionals who work in law firms, but the routes to these jobs do not require a university degree.


Paralegals work in law firms but are not qualified as Solicitors or Chartered Legal Executives.

Although Paralegals were once considered ‘support staff’, the role of a Paralegal is becoming distinct in its own right. This role is often seen as a stepping stone to becoming a Solicitor or a Chartered Legal Executive.

Some professionals apply to qualify as a Solicitor while working as a Paralegal, provided they can satisfy the Solicitors Regulation Authority that they have gained the same knowledge and skills as they would have done through a training contract.

Chartered Legal Executive

A Chartered Legal Executive is a qualified Lawyer who is trained to specialise as an expert in a specific area of law.

The role of a Chartered Legal Executive is also very similar to that of a Solicitor; however, it does not require a university degree.

The Jefferies Team

Here at Jefferies, we have a structure that includes the following title groups which haven’t been mentioned previously. Here’s what they mean:


Traditionally, law firms are run by partnerships, a group of Senior Lawyers who personally invest in the firm.


Associate Solicitors typically work under the supervision of a Partner and are Senior Solicitors at Jefferies who take on additional roles in supporting the business.  


Assistant Solicitors work under the supervision of a Partner or Associate and are qualified solicitors.


A Solicitor who provides services on a self-employed basis or as a contractor through a law firm.

Licensed Conveyancer

A Licensed Conveyancer is a qualified professional that specialises in the legal aspects of property sales and purchases.

Do you need legal representation?

If you’re in need of legal representation or advice, you can speak with Jefferies Solicitors Essex.

Jefferies are your Essex based law firm, assisting clients from Essex and surrounding areas; our team of highly qualified lawyers are here for you.

Find out more about our team and their expertise by visiting our Meet the Team page.

We have offices in Southend-on-Sea and Chelmsford. If you have a legal matter you would like to discuss in more detail, please reach out to us by calling 01702 332 311 or by filling out a contact form.

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