Skip to main content

Northern Ireland Law: Legal profession

An introduction to Northern Ireland Law
Subjects: Law


Below is a list of online and hard copy directories.

Chambers and Partners
In print: shelfmark Ref Law Dir C35

Legal 500
In print: shelfmark Ref Law Dir L15; Ref Law Dir 65

The Bar Directory

The Law Society Directory

The legal profession

The legal profession in Northern Ireland is split into two main categories to reflect the two broadly different roles within the legal system, solicitors and barristers. 

Barristers have rights of audience in court. They are self-employed, and work out of the Bar Library (as opposed to Chambers like those in England and Wales). Solicitors do not generally have rights of audience in court; they generally do the legal research and can represent their clients in legal negotiations but then pass the case over to a barrister if it is necessary to take action in court.  It is rare that a client will directly employ a barrister.

Decisions in the courts are made by judges (known as district judges in the Magistrates' Courts).  The Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission selects and make recommendations for Crown appointments to the Queen via the Lord Chancellor, up to and including High Court Judge. It also an appointing body, selecting, appointing and re-appointing to Non-Crown Judicial Offices. The most senior judge is the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, who is the President of the Court of Appeal, the High Court and the Crown Court.  Judges are appointed to a particular court, with greater requirements of seniority and qualification required for appointment to higher courts.