In every episode of LAWcatz we cut through the jargon that surrounds us all in today's complex world. Learn more from our LAWcatz 'IN THE KNOW' articles, a selection of legal information to weird cases and law that will educate and entertain.
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Updated: Aug 28, 2018

Yes, those white, curly wigs are still worn in British courtrooms.

The fashion trends of the 17th century helped wigs work their way into our courtrooms. The headpieces were fully adopted as proper legal wear by 1685 and came with just as many strict rules as robes also worn. Today, both judges and barristers wear wigs, but each has their own style.

People often ask why the robe and wig tradition has stuck around for so long. Traditionalists will tell you the uniform helps portray power and respect for the law, others will tell you that the robes and wigs make it more difficult for judges to be identified by criminal defendants outside the courtroom.

So who gets to wear the wig?

Queen's Counsel.

Queen's Counsel (QC) (sometimes known as "Silk" because they wear a silk gown) is a senior barrister that is appointed as a mark of seniority and outstanding ability. They deal with serious or complex matters but can appear in any Court in the land.

There are about 1600 QC's at the moment(2018 UK)


A Barrister is a specialist legal advisor and Court room advocate. They are independent but share overheads such as offices (that are known as chambers) with other independent barristers. Some say they are the mouth piece of the client or Solicitor.. "They get to wear the wig". They also wear cotton gowns. They prepare documents for Court and prepare opinions which are basically written pieces of advice on such matters as quantum ( how much is the case worth), Merits (what are the chances of you winning your case) and evidence ( who do you call as witnesses and what documents do you need to prove your case).

There are about 16000 barristers (2018 UK)


A Solicitor is a trained legal practitioner who can traditionally deals with most legal matters. In order to work their trade they have to have a practising certificate. ( A piece of paper confirming that they can legally act as a Solicitor). They generally prepare the case for the barrister to present. They can and do appear in some of the lower Courts.

They normally work in partnerships although more and more are now working in groups under a Limited Company status.

There are about 140,000 Solicitors (2018 UK)

Chartered Legal Executives.

A Chartered Legal Executive (CILEX) is a trained legal practitioner that specialises in a particular area of law.

They traditionally work for Solicitors but have recently been allowed to become partners and Directors with Solicitors and can set up their own legal practices.

They are regarded as the third branch of the legal profession after Barristers and Solicitors.

Many go on to become Solicitor and Barristers.

One has recently been appointed a deputy Judge.

There are about 24,000 Chartered Legal Executives.(2018 UK)

Trade Mark Attorney.

A Trade Mark Attorney is a person who is qualified to act in matters relating to trademark law and practice. A Trade mark is simply a symbol, word or words legally registered by use as representing a company on product. A Trade Mark Attorney provides advice and help in protecting trade marks and designs.

There are about 1500 Trade Mark Attorney's.(2018 UK)

Patent Attorney.

A Patent is something given by a Government that confers a right or title of a certain invention for a set period so others can not copy it. eg. If you invent something you will need to get a Patent to stop others copying, making, using or selling it.A Patent Attorney is a specialised trained experts who represents clients in obtaining patents and acts in matters relating to patents.

There are 3500 Patent Attorney's. (2018 UK)

Licensed Conveyancers.

A Licensed Conveyancer is a specialist legal professional who has been trained to deal with all aspects of property law.

Cost Lawyer.

A Cost Lawyer is a trained legal Practitioner who specialises in all aspects of Legal Costs. They used to be called Law Cost Draftsmen.

There are about 700 Cost Lawyers (2018 UK)


A Notary is a qualified lawyer who is primarily concerned with the authentication and certification of signatures, authority and capacity relating to documents for use abroad.

There are 700 Notaries. (2018 UK)

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