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Barristers are one of the two streams of the legal profession. The other stream is solicitors.

The traditional work of barristers is advocacy - they present cases in court, where their ability to speak and to think quickly "on their feet" as the evidence unfolds is what they are skilled in. Barrister will be "briefed" (instructed) by a solicitor - it is the solicitor who first contacts the client and has initial conduct of the case. However, the barrister is to a fair extent independent of the solicitor and can take an independent judgment as to how to conduct the case. Barristers are occasionally advocates in magistrates’ courts, but they mainly work in the District Court and Family Court (it is possible to have a solicitor advocate), the High Court or in appeal courts.

Related to this advocacy work, barristers also deal with advice on litigation and the drafting of documents ("pleadings") related to litigation.

Most solicitors are graduates with a law degree. They must also undertake professional training both by a one year studying either at the University of Hong Kong or the CityU for the Postgraduate Certificate in Laws. They then go through a pupillage with a qualified barrister. More senior barristers can apply to become a Senior Counsel ("take silk").

Barristers are all sole practititoners, but they often share premises ("chambers") and administrative staff. The barristers’ profession is regulated by the Hong Kong Bar Association which deals with matters such as training, qualifications and complaints.