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The role of a family law barrister

The Australian legal system is based upon the British model, which had traditionally separated the practice of law into the two distinct but complimentary roles of solicitor and barrister. As the legal profession evolves and modernises, the solicitor and barrister roles are becoming more and more blurred, and in some Australian states the profession has 'fused'.

Whereas solicitors are the first port of call for clients, a barrister is a legal practitioner who holds themselves out as a specialist advocate. By identifying themselves as barristers, the barrister is confining their role to be one of skilled oral presentation and argument of cases before the courts (although barristers are sometimes also requested to provide a written legal opinion on a particular areas of law).

There is no rank or hierarchy between the legal roles of barrister and solicitor, however it is commonplace for a barrister to have practiced as a solicitor first, prior to making the decision to become a specialist advocate. While most barristers have practiced as a solicitor prior to joining the bar, this is not a prerequisite and there have been a number of barristers who have gone to the bar straight from law school (although this is not common).

Barristers typically specialise in a particular area of law, such as family law, crime, estate litigation et cetera. Some barristers will accept briefs in relation to more than one area of law.

Dean Bainbridge, Family Law Barrister and Solicitor

Our Principal, Accredited Family Law Specialist Dean Bainbridge, is admitted to practice as both a barrister and solicitor.

Dean is an experienced family law barrister and solicitor, having appeared as a highly skilled advocate in both Divisions of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. Dean has also appeared in a number of family law appeals over the course of more than 20 years experience as a legal practitioner.

Dean's family law experience is broad in relation to both parenting and property orders, and he has appeared as the family law barrister and solicitor in the following reported matters:

  • Kalant & Jordain [2021] FedCFamC1F 319: Dean succeeded in a change of residence application, where the mother was found to pose a psychological risk of harm to the child, having made several false allegations of family violence against the father, included unfounded allegations that the father had sexually abused the subject child. The child was removed from the mother's care and is now living with the father.

  • Adair & Adair [2019] FamCAFC 70: At first instance, Dean succeeded in convincing the Family Court to award the wife 100% of the net property pool in a case that involved a failure of disclosure on the part of the Husband, an alleged trust, as well as a Kennon argument by the wife (asserting that her contributions were made more arduous as a result of family violence). Dean also successfully defended the judgment when the Full Court of the Family Court dismissed the Husband’s appeal, confirming the adjustment of 100% of the property pool to our client. In addition to winning the appeal, Dean successfully argued for the husband to pay the wife's legal costs.
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