Solicitors vs Barristers - ‘Barristers: Without Solicitors, They’re All Talk’

On Wednesday 17 April audiences witnessed arguably the most savage and relationship straining debate of 2019.

The argument started with Sarah from the affirmative jumping straight into definitions, pointing out that a Barristers job description contains several phrases such as, ‘mediation’, ‘dispute resolution’, ‘arbitration’ highlighting that basically every role that a Barrister can officially perform contains a synonym for talking.

James for the affirmative followed this point by arguing that a system of litigation requires litigants, which are supplied by solicitors. Explaining to the negative team that a client is “the person whose name goes on your invoice that you misspelled the last 12 times”. Leaving us with the take away analogy “Clients are the key. Solicitors are the door. And our friends here are the ornate doorknob”. Closing his argument with the argument that Barristers are decorative, very nice to have but are a triumph of form over function.

The debate swayed back and forth throughout the night, and the Barristers nailed the affirmative with some thought-provoking rebuttals. The Solicitors tried to claim, ‘if a solicitor doesn’t print a document, will it get printed?’ boasting how their administrative skills keep barristers afloat. However, the third speaker of the negative Bernie who stepped in last minute (a law student and paralegal admitted as a barrister on the night for 15 minutes) pointed out that it is really the labour of the paralegals that keeps the Solicitors functioning. Questioning how many solicitors the audience had seen doing their own printing? 

The Barristers also argued that they are much more substantive in their role as an inhouse therapist to Solicitors. Debating that Solicitors need a friend that they can rant to over a drink at the end of the day. As well as being a convenient shield to complaints, more commonly known as “the bad guy”.  The second speaker of the negative team Douglas even pointing out that they are generous enough to offer safety to solicitors by allowing them to ‘join the dark side, it’s more fun’.

However, after three years of the Barrister dominating the competition, the solicitors managed to take back the crown. Congratulations to both teams for a thought-provoking and possibly relationship straining debate. A special thank you to James d’Apice who recorded his speech and has provided us with the link below.

Affirmative team:

  • First speaker - Sarah Dickins - Maurice Blackburn
  • Second speaker - James D'Apice - Makinson d'Apice Lawyers
  • Third Speaker - Thomas Spohr - Legal Aid NSW

Negative Team:

  • First Speaker - Wen Wu - 5 Wentworth Chambers
  • Second Speaker - Douglas McDonald-Norman - Eight Selborne Chambers
  • Third Speaker - Bernie Musry – Law Student and Paralegal


Click here to watch James d’Apice the 2nd speaker for the affirmative voice his opinion on the topic.