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A solicitor is a type of barrister in many common law jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, but not the United States (in the United States the word has a quite different meaning). In some common law countries the legal profession is split between solicitors and barrister. Solicitors provide counsel and assistance on matters of law.

Particularly, they are the first point of contact for people and bodies (members of the public, companies and charities) seeking skilled legal advice and representation. The solicitors can work together in private practice or can work in central and local government, or 'in-house' in a commercial or industrial organization and advise clients, and a barrister who is retained by a solicitor to advocate in a legal hearing or to surrender a legal opinion.

In most Australian States (the formal exception being Queensland, but in practice also New South Wales and Victoria), as well as in Canada, the legal profession is "fused" which means that a lawyer can be a solicitor, barrister, and proctor.

Where the legal profession is not "fused" in cases where a trial is necessary a client must retain a solicitor, who will advise him or her and then may deliver a brief to a barrister to act on the solicitor's instructions.