Sunday, 2 November 2008

Not a good time to be a criminal barrister (a supplement)

I've been doing some various research on the bar, seeming as that is what I want to do and I could even *shock horror* bring it up an interview, rather than just regurgitating Simon Myerson's ten reasons why I want to be a barrister, which of course I do intend to do, if not albeit my own tweaked versions.

So here is some further research about what difficulties lay in our bleak future.

Recent reports that the bar will become a two tier profession; those doing work based on legal aid are likely to get f' all whilst the commercial fat cats will have more money. The criminal bar's future definitely does look bleak.

Also at this years bar conference, barristers are furious over the inadequacy of solicitor's performances in court, who have little or no relevant experience. See here

Lord Carter's report on Legal Aid and the reform (imagine putting someone in charge of reforming legal aid when they have NO experience in the system and as he admitted he had no experience of the sytem before he started work on it) are likely to have a heavy impact on the legal aid system, as already mentioned in the previous post solicitors are more likely to take on more junior work in house. Establishing a fixed advocacy fee also looks very likely. We already know of what the Legal Services Commission wants to do to the bar (personally I think eradicate it or at least try and cut some costs which will mostly be in the criminal bar) earlier this year accusing the bar to be breaking competition laws.

The legal services commission is not very well looked upon especially in my experience of criminal barristers who refer to people who have signed onto the latest VHCC as "scabs" the equivalent to a traitor, much like those people who went to work mining during the strikes of the 70's and 80's. I'm not entirely sure if this is because they do not want fixed fees, or do not in general like the LSC.

What can be said is that the criminal bar will definitely shrink, if not all other areas of the bar, and good people will go far, and the lesser ones will go and work for the CPS. Which currently I think may be better than going to chambers, at least if they do all their own work in house it means that I will never have to worry about having no work.

I'm not sure why everyone wants to cut down the legal aid budget, from what I know the legal aid budget would fund the NHS for two weeks, so hardly that expensive, a cut in costs will ultimately either mean a leaner profession or one that no longer attracts the brighest.

Further Reading
Is the Bar becoming a two tier profession - Frances Gibb - Times Law
How healthy is the Bar? - Frances Gibb - Times LawToo many solicitors are no good in court, say barristers - Frances Gibb - Times Law
Young Legal Aid Lawyers - try and check out the videos they are quite good, you can see how the profession is being squees, also look for the very angry woman in red, she makes some very good points.


Bar Boy said...

Good post, Lost. Whilst I can understand why the Bar want to fight their corner and, from what I am told, it is losing a lot of work to the solicitor side of the profession, it does, nevertheless, seem strange to me that people that are supposedly super-bright see that it is a good idea to pick a fight with the people that provide the Bar with the vast majority of their instructions. This seems like an own goal. The more the Bar criticises the solicitors and CPS, the more they will keep the work for themselves rather than instruct the Bar. The BAr may well, indeed, be justified in what they say, but it never seems like a good idea to bite the hand that feeds you. Better off directing the attention towards the Justice Department; no one likes politicians, so at least then the Bar might get some sympathy, and if only by being the lesser of two evils in the eyes of the public.

Lost said...

Yes biting the hand that feeds you hmm... it does seem that way. Having studied the history of the CPS in part, it seems a lot better than what it was,and I would prefer the referal system rather than the police taking on prosecutions.

However criminal barristers still see it as appalling especially as they never read the evidence or sort through the evidence properly and I have seen this first hand.

I think its fairly easy for the bar to fight their own corner when they are cornered, isn't this what the bars' members does best in court?

It seems that the basic instinct of the barristers is their undoing, such as what Simon Myerson said long ago and I have only just begun to understand if the Bar does not show WHY it is better than the alternatives, then why should people come to it?

Traditions are going, and the market is open to "competition" better be the best out there or stop complaining.