A lawyer is anyone who could give legal advice. So, this term encompasses Solicitors, Barristers, and legal executives.
In the United Kingdom, a solicitor is a type of lawyer who provides legal advice and representation to clients. Solicitors typically handle a wide range of legal matters, such as drafting contracts, providing advice on legal issues, and representing clients in court.
A barrister, on the other hand, is a type of lawyer who specializes in representing clients in court. Barristers are typically self-employed and are often called upon by solicitors to provide legal representation for their clients in more complex or high-stakes cases. Barristers also have the right to appear in all courts in the UK, while solicitors may only appear in certain courts.
The usual education required of a solicitor includes either a qualifying law degree or both a degree in a different suitable subject and a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), awarded by examination. Both are followed by a postgraduate Legal Practice Course, a two-year period of recognized training (also called the training contract), and a Professional Skills Course.
In addition, prospective solicitors must pass a test of character and suitability by declaring that they have not engaged in any potentially disqualifying behaviour, such as criminal offenses, unethical professional conduct, or financial mismanagement.
A prospective barrister must complete a program of academic study and undergo vocational and professional training (pupillage) and must satisfy certain traditional requirements, such as attending a specified number of formal dinners at the respective inn. Students who have completed all but the pupillage stage of their training are eligible to be called to the bar, whereupon they assume the title “barrister”—though they are not permitted to refer to themselves as such in connection with the provision of legal services until they have completed their pupillage.
In the USA and other jurisdictions, no distinction is made between between Solicitors and Barristers, and they refer to both of them as “Lawyers”.
In summary, the main difference between solicitors and barristers is the type of work they do and the level of court they can appear in. Solicitors generally provide a wider range of legal services to clients, while barristers specialize in representing clients in court.